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INTERVIEW: Komeito chief touts ruling camp’s ability to realize policies

Tokyo, Oct. 21 (Jiji Press)–Ahead of the Oct. 31 House of Representatives election, Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, the ally of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has emphasized the coalition’s ability to implement policy measures.


In an interview with media outlets, Yamaguchi noted that Komeito’s campaign activities for the election for the powerful lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, had been constrained considerably by the novel coronavirus pandemic, adding that he had thought it might be difficult for the party to achieve its goals of winning seats in nine single-seat constituencies and securing eight million proportional representation votes.


“We’re now ready to make all-out efforts as the virus crisis has been subsiding gradually,” he said.


Yamaguchi sounded cautious about opposition parties unifying candidates. But he said, “It’s important for us to work harder to let the public know that the LDP-Komeito coalition government is stable and capable of realizing policies.”


While noting that the LDP and Komeito have been working together for a long period and have recently reaffirmed their coalition agreement, Yamaguchi said it seems that opposition parties are not on the same page.


The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party have agreed that the JCP will cooperate with a possible opposition-led government in which the CDP would play a central role from outside the cabinet, but the Democratic Party for the People is negative about such a cooperation scheme, Yamaguchi noted.


“It’s unclear what kind of government the opposition side wants to create,” he said.


Komeito aims to attract voter support by stressing that it has taken the lead in the implementation of coronavirus measures, such as vaccinations and securing hospital beds, Yamaguchi said. The party is also eager to explain its measures to overcome the virus crisis, he added.


Promoting social and economic activities in a post-pandemic era will lead to Japan’s revival, Yamaguchi said.


“The ruling bloc must win at least a simple majority of seats in the Lower House election,” he noted.


“I cannot say for sure that the ruling camp will be able to win (a so-called stable majority or an absolute stable majority),” he commented, adding, “The important thing is for the ruling camp to stay in power, which would lead to political stability.” He also said Komeito “will do all it can to win as many seats as possible.”


Public support for new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet rose significantly from that for the cabinet of his predecessor, Yoshihide Suga. This is “a plus” for the ruling camp, but it is important to keep making efforts without rejoicing over the higher cabinet support, Yamaguchi said.


He said that maintaining fiscal sustainability is “of great significance.”


In its election platform, Komeito has promised to offer benefits worth 100,000 yen per head for people aged 18 or younger. But Yamaguchi said the scope of recipients of the benefits will be limited.


With people’s potential appetite to spend being strong, consumption is highly likely to increase once the coronavirus pandemic subsides.


Asked about the consumption tax, Yamaguchi said that talking about raising financial burdens would dampen sentiment at a time when people and companies are trying to recover from the pandemic.


Discussions on the consumption tax should be held in the future with a sense of responsibility from a medium- to long-term perspective, he said.

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