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Almost 40% of LDP candidates back U.S. military action against North Korea, survey finds

Kyodo

Nearly 40 percent of ruling Liberal Democratic Party candidates planning to run in the Oct. 22 general election support U.S. military action against North Korea if nuclear and missile issues cannot be resolved peacefully, a recent Kyodo News survey showed.

The survey, released Sunday, also showed that 72.5 percent of candidates expected to run on the ticket of the newly formed Kibo no To (Party of Hope) led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike are against amending Japan’s pacifist Constitution while Shinzo Abe remains prime minister.

The survey covered 1,028 candidates confirmed by last Thursday to be running in the election, of whom 948 responded by Sunday. The respondents included 268 from the LDP, 28 from Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition ally, and 160 from Kibo no To, which has suddenly emerged as the apparent main rival to the LDP.

With the launch of Kibo no To last month leading to the effective collapse of the main opposition Democratic Party, the election is expected to be a three-way battle between the ruling coalition parties, Kibo no To, and other opposition groups including a new party formed by liberal members of the DP.

Survey respondents also included 243 candidates from the Japanese Communist Party, 54 from the new liberal-minded Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and 40 from Nippon Ishin no Kai led by Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui.

Asked about U.S. military action against Pyongyang if the United States and Japan fail to resolve the nuclear and missile standoff by applying pressure on the North, 39.6 percent of the LDP candidates said they support the use of military force and 20.5 percent were opposed.

Among Nippon Ishin candidates, 77.5 percent said they back U.S. military action. But in the case of Kibo no To, which aims to become “a reform-minded conservative party,” 57.5 percent were against the use of military force while 21.3 percent responded otherwise.

Nearly all Japanese Communist Party candidates and 85.2 percent of the CDP candidates were against the U.S. resorting to military steps.

Regarding amending the Constitution, 66.9 percent of Kibo no To candidates were against Abe’s proposal to see a revised supreme law put into force in 2020, when Japan will host the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.

More than half, or 53.1 percent, of the candidates of Koike’s party also said they disapprove of Abe’s plan to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution by adding an explicit reference to the Self-Defense Forces.

Still, 90.6 percent of Kibo no To candidates said they are basically in favor of amending the Constitution.

More than 90 percent of candidates to run on the Komeito ticket also expressed support for constitutional revision. But they were split on whether to do so under the Abe government, with 14.3 percent supporting doing so and 14.3 percent opposed.

On the government plan to raise the consumption tax from 8 to 10 percent in October 2019, most ruling party candidates expressed support.

But over 60 percent of the candidates with Kibo no To and the CDP, as well as 92.5 percent of Nippon Ishin candidates, called for postponing the increase.

Japan is scheduled to hold its first general election since 2014, with 465 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs. The ruling parties held a two-thirds majority in the Lower House when Abe dissolved it in late September.