The heads of four opposition parties criticized the administration of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on Monday for failing to resuscitate the economy, vowing to keep the ruling party from taking a majority in the House of Councilors election next month.

Komei leader Toshiko Hamayotsu stressed that her party will do its best to fight the Liberal Democratic Party in the election. “The Hashimoto administration should take responsibility for causing the lingering economic slump through a series of economic policy failures.

“If the LDP regains a majority in the chamber, it will lead to the revival of a political monopoly, despite its policy failures,” she told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club.

Masayoshi Takemura, head of New Party Sakigake, said the LDP has become increasingly arrogant since it gained a majority in the powerful House of Representatives last September. Sakigake terminated its four-year alliance with the LDP at the beginning of this month, as did the Social Democratic Party.

Both Komei and Sakigake denied speculation they may cooperate with the LDP when the election is over. “The LDP’s political domination has brought about a number of serious problems in Japan. It is impossible for Komei to help the situation continue,” Hamayotsu said.

While opposition parties are united in criticizing the Hashimoto administration and the LDP, their policies are different.

On ways to prop up the economy, DPJ President Naoto Kan called for promoting domestic-led growth by introducing a permanent income tax cut of 3 trillion yen. He said corporate taxes should be reduced and the tax burden on families’ education fees should be eased.

Komei, on the other hand, said the party’s most important campaign pledge is to implement 10 trillion yen in tax cuts — 6 trillion yen in permanent income, residential and corporate taxes, and 4 trillion yen in the form of gift certificates, to encourage spending.

Japanese Communist Party chief Tetsuzo Fuwa called for rolling back the consumption tax from 5 percent to 3 percent. “To encourage consumption, it is necessary to directly work on the consumption tax,” Fuwa said.

Sakigake’s Takemura said the party is against tax cuts if they further erode the country’s fiscal deficit. He also said the people should return to respecting the merits of a simple lifestyle, considering the finite amount of environmental resources. “I am not sure that a country should continue making steady economic growth, since it would lead to the destruction of the environment on which human beings depend,” Takemura said. “We need to change the way we live, with more emphasis put on quality rather than quantity.”

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