Your Party emerges as force to approach

by Kazuaki Nagata

Your Party emerged from Sunday’s Upper House election with a presence in the chamber it never had and as a force to bargain with.

Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe said that although his group, which won at least nine seats in the poll, has no plans to join the Democratic Party of Japan-led ruling coalition, it may cooperate in certain areas, particularly civil service reform, but will oppose a sales tax hike. The DPJ bloc lost its Upper House majority Sunday.

“The DPJ suddenly began mentioning the consumption tax hike (before the poll), and the Liberal Democratic Party originally said that as well,” Watanabe said on TV. “Your Party proposed to become the third choice, which I think many people welcomed.”

Your Party went into the poll without any seats in the Upper House, so “winning (any) is astounding progress,” he said.

With the DPJ set to suffer a severe setback, Your Party looks positioned to play a key role in the Upper House. But another of its executives also ruled out joining the ruling bloc.

“The DPJ’s vision and our vision are fundamentally different,” Your Party Secretary General Kenji Eda said.

Watanabe and Eda said that while the DPJ aims to become a “big” government with tax hikes, Your Party aims for “small” government to strengthen regional governments and the private sector.

The party repeatedly criticized Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the DPJ president, and his hopes to open debate on raising the 5 percent sales tax, saying other things need to be done before the levy is hiked.

Your Party said in its campaign pledge it hopes to cut 100,000 civil servants and the salaries of those who remain by 20 percent, pare the Lower House by 180 seats and the Upper House by 142.

Other goals include achieving 4 percent annual economic growth in nominal terms and uncovering “hidden treasure” of ¥30 trillion from the government’s special accounts, independent administrative institutions and other sources.

“I think our proposals that fiscal reconstruction can be achieved and social security can be protected without tax hikes resonated quite well,” Watanabe said, adding his party will pressure the DPJ to dissolve the Lower House and also promote a realignment of political forces.