Only the Japanese Communist Party can act as a counterweight to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the Upper House election, especially against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic and constitutional revision plans, JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii declared Saturday.
In an interview with The Japan Times and other media organizations, Shii voiced confidence that the JCP will capitalize on the momentum generated in last Sunday’s Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, where the party doubled its number of seats.
Shii said the JCP became the third-largest party in the assembly, after the LDP and its ruling coalition ally, New Komeito, because voters recognized it as a viable alternative.
He said the JCP aims to capture 6.5 million votes in the proportional representation section in the July 21 House of Councilors poll, to secure at least five additional seats in the chamber. The party currently holds just six of the 242 seats in the Upper House, and three of its lawmakers are seeking re-election in the upcoming vote.
The JCP’s gains in the Tokyo election underline the demise of the two-party system dominated in recent years by the LDP and its predecessor in office, the Democratic Party of Japan, Shii argued.
The results also marked the end of the “third force” in national politics trumpeted by Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) in December’s general election, after co-leader Toru Hashimoto plunged the party into chaos with comments suggesting the necessity of Japan’s wartime system of sexual slavery, Shii said.
“All other opposition forces are a carbon copy of the LDP,” he said, adding that the ruling party’s drive to hike the sales tax hike and to get Japan into the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks is simply a continuation of the previous DPJ administration’s policies.
“Your Party and Nippon Ishin are in line with Abe’s policies, in which the weak fall victim to the strong,” Shii said. “Only the JCP can offer an alternative to the LDP with valid policies.”
The JCP is particularly opposed to “Abenomics,” arguing the prime minister’s economic policies are hurting, not improving, people’s livelihoods. Shii’s party is also against cutting the corporate tax rate and raising the consumption tax from next year, while urging that companies’ internal reserves be used to boost the economy.
On other key campaign issues, the JCP opposes Japan’s entry into the TPP trade liberalization negotiations next month and is also calling for the immediate abolition of all nuclear reactors across the nation.
Regarding Abe’s hopes of revising the pacifist Constitution, Shii said that even though the LDP and New Komeito are trying to shift the focus to the economy ahead of the Upper House poll, the JCP will campaign strongly to retain the charter in its present form.
“This election should deliver a verdict to the (ruling) parties pushing for constitutional amendment,” Shii said. “The JCP will not allow a revision of war-renouncing Article 9.”