The Liberal Democratic Party pledged Friday to resubmit Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s defeated postal privatization bills for passage in the next Diet session.
In its policy platform for the Sept. 11 Lower House election, the LDP also promised to boost Japan’s ties with the United States, spearhead an effort to take the lead in Asian diplomacy and announce a constitutional reform proposal by the 50th anniversary of the party’s founding Nov. 15.
As one of its pledges to secure public safety, the LDP promised to halve the number of illegal residents by 2008 through stricter immigration controls and other means. It said allowing illegal aliens to stay in Japan creates a comfortable breeding ground for “foreign criminals.”
The platform also states that Japan should pursue a “dignified” foreign policy and enhance Japan-U.S. relations, while reinforcing bilateral defense cooperation through the planned realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
Japan will “take solid leadership in Asian diplomacy,” it vows, clarifying this means increasing “future-oriented” ties with China and South Korea, as well as resolving issues with North Korea.
Koizumi, who doubles as LDP president, dissolved the House of Representatives on Aug. 8, after bills designed to privatize Japan Post — the centerpiece of his reform drive — were voted down in the House of Councilors.
Postal privatization heads the party’s 120-point platform. The pledges cover five areas: fiscal and administrative reform, the economy, public security, measures for future generations, and the country’s role in the world.
“The LDP will accelerate reforming Japan with postal privatization as a breakthrough,” the platform says, committing the LDP to “realize postal privatization without fail.”
While the Democratic Party of Japan, the nation’s main opposition force, has vowed to slash state expenditures by 10 trillion yen over a three-year period through fiscal 2008, the LDP has not provided clear numerical targets.
Basing its economic pledges mostly on government targets, the LDP said it will achieve a surplus in the fiscal primary balance early in the next decade, via reforms of both state income and outlays.
The platform also says the LDP will aim to generate nominal economic growth of 2 percent in fiscal 2006, mirroring the party’s platform pledge for the November 2003 general election and the government’s current target.
But the LDP dismissed the idea of raising the income tax on corporate employees, an idea that was recently floated by the government’s Tax Commission. Instead, it said it aims to drastically reform the nation’s tax systems, including the consumption tax, around fiscal 2007.
Koizumi has said he will not pursue a consumption tax hike before his term as LDP president ends in September 2006.
On reforming public pension systems, the LDP said it will integrate the different schemes for public servants and corporate employees, while allowing employees without regular work to shift to the integrated program.
But the LDP platform does not touch on the DPJ’s proposal to integrate all three pension schemes, skirting the dispute that has marred talks on the issue between the ruling coalition and the DPJ.
In the area of defense, the LDP aims to upgrade the Defense Agency to a ministry and to enact a general law allowing the Self-Defense Forces to participate in multinational operations, including the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign in Afghanistan and the reconstruction of Iraq, without enacting a special law each time.
The platform also vows hard work aimed at resolving territorial disputes involving the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido and the South Korea-controlled islets known in Japan as Takeshima.
It also stresses the importance of securing Japan’s marine interests, including those in the East China Sea.
The LDP also promised to enact a new law to “deal properly with” asbestos-linked deaths and health problems suffered by workers, relatives and others who have not been compensated after a recent spate of asbestos reports.
As for future generations, the platform calls for a “national strategy” on early childhood education and vows to make it free.
To curb the country’s rapidly declining birthrate, the LDP said it will lessen the economic burden on parents, “bearing in mind the idea that the entire society shares the burden as seen in European countries where birthrates are stabilizing.”
The DPJ has criticized most of the LDP’s platform. It notes most of the pledges the LDP made in the last election have not been achieved. On Thursday, it announced survey results showing only 18 of the LDP’s previous 124 pledges have been honored.
282 on LDP ticket
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party added 17 newcomers Friday to its list of candidates for the Sept. 11 general election, bringing its total to 282, but stayed undecided on some key battlefields where rebel members plan to run.
As a result, 30 of the 37 Lower House members from the LDP who cast dissenting votes last month against the bills to privatize Japan Post are now set to fight challengers on the LDP ticket in the election.
Along with naming alternative candidates to run against those dissidents, LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe urged them to leave the party voluntarily.
Party executives have said they are considering urging the remaining dissenters to leave the party as a form of disciplinary action before the race.
Of the 37, four have given up on running in the coming race as of Friday, and four have left the LDP, including three who joined the Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) along with two House of Councilors members Wednesday.
The constituencies of Takeo Hiranuma, Seiko Noda and Kosuke Hori were among the eight districts being left blank. The three are being backed by local LDP chapters despite the decision by headquarters not to allow them on its ticket for the race because they voted against the postal bills.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has decided to field or back proponents of postal privatization in all the 300 single-seat constituencies nationwide, including candidates of the LDP’s coalition partner, New Komeito.
The LDP leaders will complete the list for single-seat districts in one or two days, Takebe said.
DPJ adds 15 to field
The Democratic Party of Japan released a list Friday of 15 candidates it will field in next month’s House of Representatives election, bringing to 287 the total number of candidates running on the main opposition force’s ticket.
The list includes Shuhei Kishimoto, a former Finance Ministry official who is also an aide to postal privatization minister Heizo Takenaka.
SAPPORO (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Friday he has no idea how convicted bribe-taker Muneo Suzuki and his newly launched party in Hokkaido may affect his own re-election bid.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.