As the nation gears up for an Upper House election this summer, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is increasingly focusing on income inequality and the needs of young people and sexual minorities.
The LDP appears to hope this will reduce the appeal of the Democratic Party of Japan, which traditionally champions the weak.
Earlier this month, the LDP held the first meeting of a new panel looking at the disparity in pay between companies’ regular and nonregular employees.
“We will work hard after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his strong commitment” to the issue in a Diet policy speech last month, Hirokazu Matsuno, the panel’s chair, told the meeting.
In his address, Abe vowed to correct such wage gaps. “The same pay for the same job,” he declared.
The LDP also plans to set up new bodies to tackle other issues that the party has been less focused on until now.
The new initiatives “will help attract voters who have supported the DPJ and the Social Democratic Party” until now, an LDP source said, naming the two parties that are known for their strong social stances.
The DPJ has cried foul over the LDP’s maneuvering. At a press conference on Friday, DPJ leader Katsuya Okada criticized the tactics as “attempts to avoid disputes on these issues.”
“We believe substantial debates will expose (the party’s) true colors,” Okada said.
With a cut in the voting age from 20 to 18 expected to be implemented before the triennial Upper House poll, the LDP plans to set up a committee to discuss the social security systems needed for future generations.
Shinjiro Koizumi, one of the LDP’s most popular politicians and the second son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, has been picked as secretary-general of a committee on economic and fiscal visions for the post-2020 era.
The LDP also plans to set up special committees on sexual and ethnic minorities.
A special committee will study the situation surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to highlight the party’s tolerance of sexual diversity.
The other panel will mainly tackle the issue of discrimination, including hate speech against ethnic minorities.
The LGBT committee will be led by LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada, who is seen as a conservative.