Despite the public’s reasonable disgust with the state of Japanese politics, voters must not lose hope that they can enact change, said Hatoko Shimizu, president of the Japan Housewives’ Association.
“Despite the decreasing popularity of the incumbent government of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, the Liberal Democratic Party tends to win when it comes to elections,” she said.
And one big reason for this paradox is that the single-seat constituency system used in Lower House elections inevitably creates a good number of dead votes, she said. “Whatever parties or candidates you may support, your vote will hardly count as things stand today,” she said. “People are irritated with this reality and such irritation has led to the prevailing trend of abstention from voting.”
Although the indifference of voters is understandable, Shimizu points out that the Japanese public must realize how their everyday lives are affected by the results of an election. “Virtually every aspect of our lives is affected by politics. Our pains and difficulties are the result of bad politics,” she said. “And if we want to change this, we must first go to vote. Otherwise, nothing will change.”
In the upcoming Upper House election, she said, the JHA will be focusing on policies that respect consumer interests and improve people’s lives, such as policies that alleviate the tax burden.
But measures proposed thus far, Shimizu said, may only benefit big companies and those with large incomes and do little to help low-income families. “If the government wants to stimulate consumption, it should lower the consumption tax rate from the current 5 percent to 3 percent and make foodstuffs tax free. Also, income tax must be cut permanently,” she said.
Shimizu also argues that the government must reduce the burden of social security-related costs, thereby relieving people of anxieties over their futures. “We believe this can be done only if the government seriously cuts into the problem of the costly system of fixed medicine prices,” she said.
Shimizu said she will be paying little attention to the upcoming election “campaign promises” as she expects they will later be proved to have been empty.
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