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SDP’s Fukushima plays up differences with DPJ

by Alex Martin

With the campaign kicking off soon for the Aug. 30 election, Social Democratic Party President Mizuho Fukushima said Wednesday her party intends to appeal to voters by upholding its long-held positions — even if this keeps the SDP from joining a ruling bloc with the predicted winner, the Democratic Party of Japan.

Fukushima said that although the SDP plans to work with the DPJ during the campaign, it won’t compromise on key positions that have defined the minor opposition party down the years — improving public welfare, maintaining the pacifist Constitution and upholding the three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory.

The DPJ could win a simple majority, but even so it would still need the cooperation of smaller opposition parties to stay among the majority in the Upper House, and the SDP is considered a potential key partner.

“The biggest problem our nation now faces is the destruction of our people’s lives,” Fukushima said. “Our campaign slogan this time around is: ‘The rebuilding of welfare.’ “

Fukushima stressed that the SDP was responsible for persuading the DPJ to submit the bill to revise the worker dispatch law under the joint endorsement of the SDP, the DPJ and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) — another possible coalition partner.

The bill, scrapped during the just-ended Diet session, would ban short-term employment of temporary workers who are dispatched by personnel agencies.

“We were also the first to voice our concerns over the ¥22 billion cut in social security costs,” Fukushima said, stressing how the SDP has always considered public welfare its priority.

Fukushima said the SDP held an important role in providing an alternative for voters concerned that the DPJ might waver on issues regarding national security. The DPJ is trying to unseat the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc, which is conservative in nature and has authorized various overseas dispatches of the Self-Defense Forces, including recent ones the DPJ has backed away from outright opposing.

“Those who want to protect Article 9 (of the Constitution), those who are insecure with the DPJ, vote for the SDP,” she said.

The SDP has long-held national security at arm’s length and insisted on Japan’s complete disarmament in accordance with Article 9. It also opposes any overseas dispatch of the SDF, a point it differs on with the DPJ, which says it would back an overseas deployment if the decision was based on a U.N. resolution.

“Our stance is very clear. Stop any proposed constitutional revision, stop any overseas dispatch of the SDF and maintain the three nonnuclear principles. These are all great aspects of postwar Japan,” she said.

Fukushima said that whether the SDP ends up forming a coalition with the DPJ, it intends to be thoroughly accountable to the public.

“Is the DPJ the only party that can fulfill our voters hopes? I believe the SDP will need to be a part (of the government),” Fukushima said.