A draft of the Liberal Democratic Party’s platform for the upcoming election states that any reactors which clear the newly compiled safety criteria will be restarted — a move likely to upset antinuclear voters awakened by the Fukushima meltdowns in 2011.
The ruling LDP will vow to stimulate the economy, revise the pacifist Constitution and mend Japan’s strained ties with China and South Korea in line with the intentions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the party’s president.
On nuclear policy, the government “will restart (reactors) under its own responsibility once it obtains the understanding” of local authorities and after the Nuclear Regulatory Authority judges them safe, the draft platform says.
Most of the nation’s 50 commercial reactors, which were idled after the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the March 2011 quake and tsunami, remain shut down. The LDP aims to determine within three years whether they can be restarted.
The loss of nuclear power has forced electrical utilities to concentrate more on thermal power generation and crank up imports of fossil fuels, weakening the nation’s trade balance, as the aggressive monetary easing touted under “Abenomics” drives down the yen, making those purchases even more expensive.
The LDP, which returned to power in the Lower House election in December, will try to take full control of the Diet in the July election for the Upper House. The draft platform, which will be finalized later this month, contains about 300 policies.
Abe took office by announcing that his top priority would be to revive the deflation-battered economy but has put off releasing any actual reform plans until June. The platform, however, lists corporate tax breaks and other support as part of a five-year reform plan to increase Japan’s corporate competitiveness.
To deal with the massive public debt, the government’s goal of achieving a primary balance surplus by the end of fiscal 2020, to avoid issuing new bonds to finance expenditures other than debt-servicing costs, will remain unaltered.
The schedule for doubling the consumption tax will also be left untouched, although the draft says the advisability of following through will be judged six months before implementation to adjust for prevailing economic conditions.
The 5 percent tax rate is set to climb to 8 percent in April 2014 and to 10 percent in October 2015.
Traditionally supported by farmers, the LDP will aim to double their incomes over the next decade while protecting domestic agriculture from being flooded by cheap food imports if Japan joins the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Since Japan will soon join the 11-nation talks on setting up the TPP, which in principle aims to scrap all tariffs, the draft makes it clear that Japan will strive to win tariff exemptions for sensitive products like rice, wheat and sugar.
The draft repeats the LDP’s resolve to revise the war-renouncing Constitution — Abe’s pet project. His quest to revise the supreme code indicates he is trying to shift Japan to the right.
The LDP covets legislation that would allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, which is banned under the government’s current interpretation of the Constitution through Article 9.