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Staff writer

Flying a banner of environment protection, New Party Sakigake will campaign for the July 12 Upper House election by urging the public to discard traditional economic values in order to secure a sound and healthy future.

“We should acknowledge that the era of seeking an ever-growing economy by mass production and mass consumption is over,” said Sakigake Secretary General Hiroyuki Sonoda, 56. “Sakigake is calling on the public to stop and think about what is necessary to enable people to live a healthy life on Earth now and in the future.”

To pursue its policy goals, Sakigake, which has only two members in the 500-seat House of Representatives and three in the 252-seat House of Councilors, is ready to cooperate with either the ruling Liberal Democratic Party or the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, he added.

Due to the party’s diminishing strength, Sakigake will field only three official candidates in the July poll on the party’s proportional representation constituency list. The party’s three incumbent seats in the Upper House are not up for grabs at this time.

One of the candidates is former party leader Shoichi Ide, who failed to win re-election in the 1996 general election.

Sakigake’s campaign pledges state that the nation should boost production of natural energy — solar, wind, waves and land heat — to achieve the emissions goal agreed upon in December at the Third Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Steps should be taken to deal with problems related to chemical pollutants such as dioxin and others that disrupt endocrine functions, the campaign pledges say. Sonoda stressed that Sakigake is pushing not only environmental policies in a narrow sense but also the need to review all national and regional policies from an environmental viewpoint.

Regional economies, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, should be promoted in order to utilize local characteristics, Sonoda said. “Agriculture has been dubbed a problem for the nation’s economy. But we believe the farming industry should receive more attention in terms of environmental preservation, securing food and respecting the economies and lifestyles of local people,” Sonoda said.

The nation’s troubled economic structure should be reformed in this direction, not just toward growth of the gross domestic product, he said.

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