New Party Nippon pledges ‘basic income’ for all

by Alex Martin

Minor opposition party New Party Nippon unveiled its campaign platform Friday, promising several major policies, including the enactment of a monthly “basic income” allowance for all citizens and a re-examination of all public-works projects to cut down on wasteful spending.

Referring to the nation’s declining birthrate and aging population, party President Yasuo Tanaka said that “what’s important for Japan now is not growth, but the maturing of the economy and society.”

Tanaka, a writer and former Nagano governor, went on to explain the rest of his party’s platform, which includes the “eradication of collusive ties between politicians and bureaucrats,” the rehabilitation of the manufacturing industry and the creation of regional employment. Tanaka also proposed founding an international rescue team, tentatively called the “Thunderbird team” in reference to a 1960s British television show.

New Party Nippon was formed in 2005 by Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers opposed to then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s postal privatization drive.

The party was initially seen as appealing to urban voters, while Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), which was also formed by LDP postal reform rebels and a likely coalition partner of the Democratic Party of Japan if the DPJ wins the Aug. 30 election, has a more rural support base.

But with the defection of several former LDP lawmakers from the party, Tanaka currently remains the sole member with a seat in the Diet, which he won in the 2007 Upper House election.

Although on friendly terms with the DPJ, Tanaka is known to occasionally vote against or abstain from DPJ-backed legislation.

Tanaka, 53, will run in the Hyogo No. 8 district in the Aug. 30 poll with the support of the DPJ.