Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa announced Monday he will run for re-election as the party’s president.

In his announcement, Ozawa stressed the need to create a safety net system to protect people from fierce economic competition, in an attempt to differentiate himself from Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the front-runner in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election, scheduled for Sept. 20.

The DPJ’s new president will be chosen Sept. 25.

In his policy agenda, Abe has focused on giving a “second chance” to those who have failed in business.

“I believe that the advancement of mankind can be seen in free competition, but (without a safety net) ultimately it will create a world where the law of the jungle prevails,” Ozawa said at a news conference. “We must make sure that everyone can live (comfortably) in their own way. . . . But Koizumi’s government did not establish a safety net and just stressed ‘deregulation,’ and that led to the severe disparity” between rich and poor, Ozawa said.

He said that if the public believes it necessary to revise the Constitution, it should be carried out.

“The Constitution is a charter that everyone decided upon to ensure that the general public has a better life, a safer and better environment. Therefore, in accordance with changes in society or the situation, if the people think it is necessary . . . (the Constitution) should be changed,” he said.

The DPJ campaign will officially kick off Tuesday, but Ozawa is expected to be re-elected unopposed.

“The mission, responsibility and aim of the leader is, above all, for the DPJ to take power,” he said.

Ozawa said that starting with Lower House by-elections in Kanagawa and Osaka prefectures in October, the DPJ needs to come together to win upcoming races, focusing especially on the Upper House general election next summer.

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