Tokyo, March 9 (Jiji Press)–The Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling coalition and the Democratic Party for the People started policy talks on Wednesday to mainly discuss measures to curb surging crude oil prices.
DPFP Secretary-General Kazuya Shinba reiterated his party’s request for the unfreezing of a so-called trigger clause for an emergency gasoline tax cut, at the day’s meeting with his LDP and Komeito counterparts, Toshimitsu Motegi and Keiichi Ishii, respectively. Ishii indicated a positive attitude on the request.
The next round of the tripartite talks is set for March 16.
The three parties decided to launch the policy dialogue at a meeting of their leaders on March 4, after the DPFP voted in favor of the government’s fiscal 2022 budget bill in the House of Representatives last month, considering Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s remark that he would not rule out any options on measures to cushion the impact of high crude oil prices.
The DPFP hopes to realize a policy directly connected to people’s daily lives in order to gain a stronger presence before this summer’s House of Councillors election.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Shinba said that the government’s expanded gasoline subsidy program was “not enough” to tackle the rising gasoline prices. With the use of the trigger clause, in addition to the subsidy program, “We want (gasoline prices) to be lowered by 50 yen (per liter),” he said.
In view of the Ukraine crisis, as well as the novel coronavirus situation, Shinba called on the government to consider a new 10-trillion-yen economic package including measures to tackle the soaring crude oil prices after the fiscal 2022 budget is enacted.
Shinba also proposed taking measures to support young carers who are taking care of family members.
On the lifting of the freeze on the trigger clause, the LDP’s Motegi maintained a cautious stance, only saying that his party will discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, Komeito’s Ishii said his party also sees a need to activate the trigger clause, stressing that the step would bring tangible benefits to consumers.
Within Komeito, there are concerns that unless the party clarifies its stance on the issue soon, the unfreezing of the clause, if realized, could be recognized as an achievement only by the DPFP.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ishii revealed that the DPFP’s Shinba repeatedly said in the meeting that the party remains an opposition party.
Kishida, also LDP president, said at the prime minister’s office that the three parties will continue the policy talks.
Meanwhile, Kenta Izumi, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters the same day that the DPFP is “being tested” on whether it will “fight against” the LDP or be “reeled in” by the ruling party.