Voters gauge party pledges

Platforms may offer a great feast but skepticism is running high

Kyodo News

Many voters appear to be closely examining the policy platforms of each party as the official campaign for the Aug. 30 election started Tuesday.

A local government official in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, said that although the platforms enable him to compare each party’s stance, “I believe they have no meaning if they lack possibility.”

Referring to the Democratic Party of Japan’s platform, he said, “It would be great if the DPJ policies are achieved, but will it really happen?”

Recent opinion polls indicate the DPJ will bring down the Liberal Democratic Party.

Both parties are playing up their economic stimulus measures, with the LDP pushing its pledge to increase disposable income by an average of ¥1 million while the DPJ promises to scrap expressway tolls.

A restaurant owner, 52, in Tsu, Mie Prefecture, said he believes neither party will be able to achieve its goals.

“A party that does not have an effective program for civil service reform will not be able to come out with sufficient stimulus,” he said.

The Social Insurance Agency’s mishandling of pension records has stirred concern about the pension scheme.

Yasuharu Tanaka, 67, who runs a driving school in Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, said he will focus on the pension issue when he decides which candidate and party to vote for.

“I have concerns over the future of the nation’s pension system as young people are gradually moving away from it,” he said. “It is quite important (for lawmakers) to establish the foundation for our future life.”

Kozue Ito, 26, an office worker in Sapporo, said she has concerns about her employment and her declining salary. She said the policy platforms of each party on expanding employment “are short on specifics. I don’t think job opportunities will expand without stimulating business activity.”

The child care polices of each party have drawn public attention, with the DPJ pledging to offer a monthly child-rearing allowance of ¥26,000 for each child of junior high school age and younger.

But Fumiko Katagiri, 32, a part-time worker in Tokyo whose 4-year-old daughter attends kindergarten, said she wonders how the DPJ will finance it.

“Judging from their manifestos, both the LDP and DPJ seem to give a big feast, but they do not clearly show how to clear off the massive government debt,” said Yoshiaki Kobayashi, a political science professor at Keio University in Tokyo.