DPJ to revise policy pledges before poll

Kyodo News

Facing trouble coming up with the funds to cover key campaign promises, the Democratic Party of Japan will revise its policy pledges ahead of next month’s Upper House election, a senior DPJ lawmaker said Tuesday.

“It is important to flexibly review” the platform for last year’s election, Koichiro Genba, state minister for civil service reform who doubles as DPJ policy chief, said at a Diet session, vowing the party will go into the July 11 election with a new manifesto.

Due to budgetary constraints, the DPJ, headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has apparently dropped one of its key pledges made before last summer’s Lower House election of providing ¥26,000 in monthly allowances for each child of junior high school age or younger starting in fiscal 2011. The amount will stay at ¥13,000.

The party is set to make up for the shortfall by offering goods or services instead of cash, lawmakers said.

Genba said the party failed to free up sufficient financial resources, through such measures as cutting wasteful spending, to fund all of its campaign promises.

“We must honestly tell the people about that,” he said.

During the Diet session, Kan said restoring the government’s finances is a “crucial issue that could affect our country’s future.”

He repeatedly asked opposition lawmakers to join debates at a proposed nonpartisan study panel for fiscal discipline.

There is a widespread view that the government under Kan might seek to raise the 5 percent consumption tax to cover revenue shortfalls, as he has been saying tax reforms are necessary.

Kan declined to specify when such reforms would come.

He was speaking to opposition lawmakers during a question-and-answer session in the Upper House in connection to his policy address last Friday, in which he said the government will prioritize rebuilding the economy, finances and social welfare system.