Japan’s ruling party unveils manifesto focused on coronavirus and defense


New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers his first political speech to parliament in Tokyo, Japan on October 8, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • Ruling party announces political platform for October elections
  • Measures against the eye virus, revitalization of the economy, strengthened defense
  • Polls show good marks for ruling party

TOKYO, Oct.12 (Reuters) – Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Tuesday unveiled its manifesto for the Oct. 31 elections aimed at ending the coronavirus pandemic, vowing to rebuild the middle class and defend against an increasingly assertive China.

Party leader Prime Minister Fumio Kishida enjoys a reasonable level of public support after a week of work, according to polls, bodes well for his goal of maintaining a majority in the lower house for the PLD and its partner coalition of the Komeito party.

“We would like to show solid measures and appeal to the people, first, how to face the coronavirus … and bring peace of mind and hope to the people,” said LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi, at a press conference.

Voters will want to see a government with decisive action plans to end the pandemic and rebuild a weak economy. A recent poll by the Sankei newspaper showed that around 48% say they want the Kishida administration to work the most on the coronavirus, followed by the economic recovery and jobs.

The manifesto highlighted measures against coronaviruses, including the provision of oral antiviral drugs this year, as well as Kishida’s vision of achieving a “new capitalism” focused on economic growth and redistribution of wealth.

The LDP said in its manifesto that it would expand its support for small and medium-sized businesses affected by the pandemic and offer grants to businesses if they branch out into new industries.

Fortunately for Kishida, the coronavirus situation has improved, with the fewest number of new cases on Monday since the middle of last year.

But Kishida is taking nothing for granted and told parliament earlier on Tuesday that the government would foresee the worst-case scenario of the coronavirus by securing more health resources and preparing to start giving booster shots in December.

Asked how the government would react to excessive declines in the yen, Kishida said he would closely monitor the impact of currency movements, noting that a weak yen increases costs for businesses by pushing prices up to import. Read more

MORE ABOUT DEFENSE

On security, the LDP said it would “reconsider” its response to increased Chinese military activity around the Taiwan Strait and western Pacific islets controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.

The government is reportedly aiming to increase its defense budget “with a view to raising it even above 2%” of gross domestic product (GDP), the party said.

Japan’s defense spending has hovered around 1% of GDP over the past decades.

Kishida, a former foreign minister seen as a safe but lackluster pair of hands, has a 49% approval rating, according to a poll released Monday night by state broadcaster NHK.

This is lower than the approval some predecessors had at the start of their tenure, but support for Kishida’s government was higher than most recent ratings for that of his predecessor, Yoshihide Suga.

Suga became deeply unpopular as he struggled to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections and resigned last month after just a year in office.

Kishida can be more pleased with the Sankey poll released on Monday which showed 63% of those polled supported his administration, with many voters saying there was no better person than him for the post of prime minister.

The poll showed a solid 45% voter support for the PLD, with support for opposition parties hovering around the single-digit numbers.

Report by Ju-min Park, edited by Robert Birsel and Ed Osmond

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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