Third in a series

Staff writer

The Komei party aims to prevent the ruling Liberal Democratic Party from regaining a majority in the Upper House in the July 12 election, said Hiroshi Tsuruoka, secretary general of the second-largest opposition force in the 252-seat chamber.

Although the LDP holds a majority in the Lower House, it is nine seats short of a majority force in the Upper House. “If the LDP obtains a majority, it would accelerate the party’s tyrannical rule,” Tsuruoka said in an interview.

Komei consists of Upper House members and local assembly members who formerly belonged to the now-defunct Komeito, which was backed by Soka Gakkai, Japan’s largest lay Buddhist organization.

When the now-defunct Shinshinto was formed by the merger of nine non-Communist opposition forces at the end of 1994, Komeito decided that only its Lower House members would join the new party, while its Upper House and local assembly members formed a group called Komei.

When Shinshinto was dissolved last December, Lower House members with Komeito backgrounds formed Shinto Heiwa (New Peace Party). Komei currently holds 24 seats, 11 of which will be contested in the coming election.

With Soka Gakkai’s powerful vote-gathering ability, Tsuruoka expressed confidence in the race, saying the party hopes to win more votes than ever under the proportional representation system. “We set our goal of winning 8 million votes, more than the record 7.43 million we gained in a 1986 election,” Tsuruoka said. “Since it is the first time in six years that Komei members will campaign in an election together as one party, I feel that our supporters are being encouraged and energized.”

In its election campaign, Komei plans to call for tax cuts worth 10 trillion yen and promote deregulation. It will also urge the government to introduce measures to relieve public concerns for the future by reforming welfare systems and expanding assistance for child-rearing and care for the aged.

Campaign pledges also include environmental measures against hormone disruptive chemicals and global warming. After the election, it is believed the LDP will seek some form of cooperation with Komei, especially if the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, the LDP’s former non-Cabinet allies, do not rebuild cooperative relations with the LDP.

However, Tsuruoka brushed aside the possibility that Komei will forge an alliance with the LDP, and said the fundamental policies and philosophies of the two parties are different.

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