Formally re-elected head of the ruling party, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he has set out three new goals for “Abenomics” and will target a 20 percent increase in gross domestic product to ¥600 trillion.
The three new economic policy goals include: promotion of economic growth, child-rearing assistance to push up the low birth rate and social security measures to increase nursing facilities for the elderly.
Earlier in the day, the Liberal Democratic Party held a special meeting for Diet members at party headquarters, where Abe was re-elected LDP president for three more years.
Abe then held a news conference to state that his priorities for the next term would be the economy and social security measures. “For the next three years, I’d like to promote measures with an eye on the future. Today Abenomics is entering its second phase,” Abe told reporters at LDP headquarters.
Abe also said his government will aim to increase Japan’s nominal GDP by about 20 percent to around ¥600 trillion and keep the population at around 100 million.
Touching on the specifics of his policies, Abe pledged to bolster the country’s welfare services to realize a society where no one need leave their job to care for elderly parents.
Abe also vowed to increase the number of intensive care nursing home facilities to tackle ballooning waiting lists as a result of a rapidly aging population. The government plans to include expenses for increasing the number of nursing homes in the budget for fiscal 2016.
It will aim to bring some 150,000 people currently on the waiting lists, who are certified as being in need of Level 3 care or above on a scale of 5, to zero by early next decade. Level 3 under Japan’s public nursing system is applied to elderly people who are deemed to be unable to care for themselves but can be treated at home.
By cutting the number of elderly people waiting for vacancies in special nursing homes, the government hopes to reduce the burden on their family members, which has become a serious issue, with thousands of workers leaving their jobs every year to take care of aging family members at home.
According to Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications data, some 100,000 people left their jobs to look after elderly family members between October 2011 and September 2012.
In fiscal 2013, about 520,000 people nationwide were on a waiting list for intensive care nursing homes, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
Abe retained the LDP presidency earlier this month in the absence of other candidates.
With this fresh mandate, Abe is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet and the LDP executive teamnext month, aiming to ameliorate declining public support following the passage of contentious national security bills last week.
By re-emphasizing his economic agenda, Abe is apparently trying to recover his popularity among voters and market players.
Polls have suggested more than half of voters are opposed to Abe’s security reform drive, and opposition parties are ready to attack the LDP over the issue leading up to the Upper House election next summer.
Asked if the LDP will advocate any revision of the postwar Constitution during the election campaign, Abe said during Thursday’s news conference that he and the LDP will first try to promote “understanding of the nation.”
“It is a matter of course that basic concepts of the current Constitution should be maintained. On top of that, I believe necessary revisions of the Constitution should be done,” Abe said.
Any change to the Constitution requires support from more than half of voters in a national referendum.
A referendum can be initiated only if more than two-thirds of lawmakers of both Diet chambers vote for it.
Winning as many seats as possible in the Upper House election, therefore, is the first political hurdle for Abe in constitutional revision.
Information from Kyodo added
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