CDP challenges ruling bloc with pledge to halt tax hike and vow to end nuclear power reliance

Kyodo

The newly created Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has released its campaign pledges for the Oct. 22 Lower House election, coming out against a planned consumption tax hike and vowing to end the country’s reliance on nuclear power.

The party, formed by from the liberal wing of Democratic Party, which effectively disbanded late last month, pledged Saturday to oppose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party on several key issues. These include the consumption tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent scheduled for October 2019, the continued dependence on nuclear power and any revision to the pacifist Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9.

The policy plank of the CDP, led by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, regarding the tax hike and nuclear power are similar to those of another new party, Kibo no To (Party of Hope), which is led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.

The upcoming election for the 465-seat Lower House is expected to be a three-way battle pitting the ruling LDP-Komeito coalition against Koike’s conservative party and the left-leaning CDP.

The CDP, which unveiled a list of 62 candidates Friday for single-seat constituencies, has retained the same stance as its progenitor party, the DP, to which its members previously belonged.

In particular, it is opposed the idea of revising Article 9, but will also seek discussions on other issues such as limiting the prime minister’s power to dissolve the Lower House.

More than 100 former DP members who back amending the Constitution have joined Koike’s party.

The LDP is aiming to make the first-ever amendment to the charter, seeking debate on a number of areas including the question of adding a specific mention of the status of the Self-Defense Forces. The SDF is currently governed by its own law and not referenced in the Constitution, which requires Japan to renounce war as well as the maintenance of “war potential.”

The CDP’s campaign platform says a debate will be necessary on how to finance surging social welfare spending, but notes that economic conditions for the planned consumption tax hike have not yet been met.

As for nuclear energy, the CDP has vowed to craft a law aimed at paving the way for eliminating all of the country’s nuclear power plants.

Ruling and opposition parties have been gearing up for the election, announcing candidates’ lists and platforms ahead of the Tuesday kick off of official campaigning.

The LDP is proposing to spend a large proportion of the extra revenue from the planned tax hike on social welfare initiatives for children and those of childbearing-age.

Koike’s party has said it would freeze the tax hike.