• Kyodo

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The new party led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will advocate a halt to the impending sales tax hike and push for further debate on amending the war-renouncing Constitution, sources said Wednesday.

Koike’s Kibo no To (Party of Hope) will also seek to “have zero nuclear power plants by 2030,” the sources said.

The party’s stance on the consumption tax and nuclear power indicate an effort to differentiate itself from the similarly conservative ruling bloc headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Kibo no To plans to release its platform by Friday, before official campaigning for the Oct. 22 Lower House election starts next week, according to an aide to Koike.

Abe, who heads the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has proposed redistributing a larger portion of the extra revenue from the anticipated tax hike toward social welfare initiatives for children and those starting families. The increase is scheduled for October 2019 and will take the nation’s consumption tax rate to 10 percent from the current 8 percent.

Abe’s administration has also advocated bringing nuclear reactors back online despite safety concerns following the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear accident.

Kibo no To is seeking to develop detailed nuclear power phase-out measures by incorporating energy-saving steps and increasing the percentage of renewables in the country’s energy mix, the sources said.

On the Constitution, however, Koike’s “reform-minded conservative” party is likely to take a similar stance to the LDP, which says in its campaign platform it will aim to make the first-ever amendment to the supreme law “on the basis of sufficient debate inside and outside the party.”

Koike’s party will “advance (constitutional) discussions including Article 9,” according to sources. The article requires Japan to renounce war and the maintenance of “war potential.”

The LDP has said its talking points will include the question of explicitly mentioning of the status of the Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution, which remains a controversial topic.

“We will do what the LDP cannot do. Otherwise, we cannot regain vibrancy for Japan. It is our task to promote bold reforms,” Koike told reporters on Wednesday.

The fledgling party established last week will challenge the LDP by fielding at least 233 candidates, more than half of the 465 seats in the Lower House.

On the economic front, the party will aim to revitalize the economy through deregulation measures and use special economic zones as part of its “post-Abenomics economic policies,” referring to the policy mix initiated by Abe.

The party will also promise to cut the number of Diet members and reduce salaries to break with “politics shackled by vested interests.”

Amid the growing threat from North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, the party will pledge to bolster crisis management, the sources said.

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