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Your Party stands against tax hike, nuclear plants

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Your Party will stress its call to freeze the upcoming consumption tax hike and promise to abolish all nuclear power plants by 2030 when the campaign for the Upper House officially starts Thursday, party leader Yoshimi Watanabe said.

“We’d like to say to voters, ‘please don’t lose hope in politics,’ ” Watanabe told The Japan Times and other media outlets during a joint interview Wednesday. “If they give up, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito will win a big victory.”

With the support rate for the LDP-New Komeito alliance remaining consistently high, according to public opinion polls, observers are predicting a big victory for the ruling camp in the July 21 election.

Your Party is the fourth-largest force in the Upper House, holding 13 seats. Three of them will be contested in this election as half of the 242-seat chamber is up for grabs. The party as of Tuesday had 30 candidates.

“The possibility is very high that if the LDP-New Komeito bloc wins big, they will go back to their old politics, which is to benefit industry groups” that support and fund their campaigns, Watanabe said.

The ultimate goal for Your Party in this election is, together with other opposition parties, to prevent the LDP-New Komeito camp from winning a majority in the Upper House, he said.

The LDP has advocated revising the postwar Constitution, starting with watering down Article 96 to make it easier to make other amendments down the road.

The article as it now stands requires that constitutional changes win the approval of two-thirds of each Diet chamber before voters make the final decision in a national referendum.

Watanabe said there are other issues that should take priority over constitutional revision, such as measures to thoroughly correct the vote-value disparities between rural and urban areas and drastic reform of the central bureaucracy.

“We ourselves won’t try to make constitutional revision an issue for the election,” he said.

Having said that, Your Party has called for constitutional revision regarding administrative reform, such as consolidating the Diet into a single chamber and electing prime ministers through a direct general election.

Asked about the possibility of his party merging with Nippo Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) after the election, Watanabe flatly ruled it out.

“I have felt differences in such things as culture and viewpoints of history,” Watanabe said.

Nippon Ishin proposed a merger last October with Your Party, but the two parties eventually failed to reach an agreement.

Watanabe also pointed out that the Democratic Party of Japan was formed with members from various parties, such as the LDP, Social Democratic Party and Japan New Party, and many members eventually bolted after almost constant internal struggles.

“We have to learn lessons from the DPJ,” Watanabe said.