Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii pledged Thursday to scrap the second stage of the consumption tax hike as he outlined the party’s platform ahead of the campaign for the Dec. 14 Lower House election.

He said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies had failed and that the JCP would demand that the tax hike be repealed.

“The prime minister had no choice but to delay the planned consumption tax hike to 10 percent, which seems to be an admission that his economic policies have failed,” Shii told reporters at the party’s headquarters in Tokyo.

Shii argued that the prime minister’s “three arrows” of aggressive monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and vows of structural reforms have widened the income gap and worsened the economy.

“We will ask voters in the campaign what ‘Abenomics’ has brought,” he said, adding that the party will boost social welfare and help the agriculture sector and small- and midsize companies.

The Cabinet Office said Nov. 17 that gross domestic product shrank 1.6 percent on an annualized basis in the July-September quarter, notching its second consecutive quarterly contraction as Japan slipped back into yet another recession.

After the release of the surprising data, the Abe administration announced it wouldn’t complete the doubling of the consumption tax to 10 percent until April 2017.

“We will demand that the tax hike is canceled, not delayed,” Shii said, adding that his party will seek other alternatives to secure new revenue — including higher taxes on the wealthy and big corporations.

Shii said that the economic slowdown was brought on by the first stage of the tax hike to 8 percent from 5 percent in April, in addition to the jump in prices caused by the weakening of the yen under Abenomics.

On other controversial issues, the JCP chairman said that his party will demand that the Cabinet reverse its decision in July to reinterpret the war-renouncing Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, which is banned by Article 9.

It will also strive to abolish the contentious state secrecy law.

Opposing the government’s campaign to restart the nation’s idled nuclear reactors, Shii said the party will push to create a “nuclear-free” Japan and further promote the use of renewable energy.

Shii said the party aims to gain or increase seats in all 11 proportional-representation blocs as well as in single-seat districts.

The JCP won eight seats by proportional representation in the previous general election in December 2012, losing one seat from the previous election in 2009.

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