• Kyodo

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The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan on Friday released a set of emergency proposals, including cash handouts, aimed at responding to the coronavirus.

The CDP’s proposals include giving ¥100,000 to low-income households, offering new benefits to businesses to curb social and economic activities to stop the spread of the virus and prioritizing the vaccination of teachers.

The CDP plans to submit its proposals to the government and ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, demanding the measures be implemented in the next three weeks.

“We have compiled what must be done now while the government is not functioning due to the LDP presidential election,” CDP leader Yukio Edano told reporters. The LDP’s leadership vote is set to take place later this month.

Other measures include postponing or canceling events in areas where infections are spreading and creating a medical system for helping COVID-19 patients whose condition suddenly deteriorates while recuperating at home or at accommodation facilities.

To prevent the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus among family members, the party also proposed to support schools in conducting PCR tests regularly and holding classes online.

The LDP is gearing up for its Sept. 29 leadership race to pick the successor to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who abruptly announced his resignation last week amid mounting criticism over his COVID-19 response and declining public approval ratings. The election effectively decides the next prime minister as the LDP controls the powerful Lower House of the Diet. A general Lower House election must take place later this year.

Vaccine minister Taro Kono announced Friday he will join the contest, posing a challenge to former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and former internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi, who have already declared their candidacies.

Edano suggested Kono should prioritize his responsibilities as the minister in charge of Japan’s vaccination efforts, saying, “Coronavirus response comes first rather than a party presidential election.”

So far, about half of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the government aims to complete inoculations of those who wish to receive shots between October and November.

The CDP and other opposition parties are trying to join forces leading up to a general election to be held in the coming months, as the House of Representatives members’ terms expire on Oct. 21.

Earlier this week, the CDP, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and Reiwa Shinsengumi agreed on a set of joint pledges, including lowering the consumption tax rate and achieving a zero-carbon society without nuclear energy.

They also vowed to raise the minimum wage, oppose amending the Constitution and give couples the option of keeping separate surnames after marriage.

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