• Kyodo, Jiji

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday said he will follow through with his pledge to deliver a “large-scale” package to stimulate the pandemic-hit economy as campaigning started for two Upper House by-elections.

The Oct. 24 by-elections in Shizuoka and Yamaguchi prefectures will allow voters to make their feelings known about the new administration launched by the prime minister this week, ahead of a general election at the end of the month.

“I strongly feel that I need to carry out a large-scale economic stimulus or a large-scale coronavirus response, and I need people to judge whether to let me do so through elections,” Kishida said in a stump speech delivered in the city of Shizuoka for a candidate backed by his Liberal Democratic Party.

Kishida has said the stimulus package will be worth tens of trillions of yen and extend support to businesses reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Opposition parties’ top officials also made speeches in Shizuoka.

Tomoko Tamura, policy chief of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), said, “We need to achieve a shift in politics by bringing a change of government.”

Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, said, “We must not lose the battle ahead of the general election.”

The LDP aims to win both by-elections in a bid to gain a momentum ahead of the Lower House race. Opposition parties failed to field unified candidates.

Three people filed their candidacies in the Shizuoka by-election to fill the vacancy left after LDP lawmaker Shigeki Iwai quit and ran unsuccessfully in the Shizuoka gubernatorial race in June.

Among them, former Gotenba Mayor Yohei Wakabayashi, 49, was fielded by the LDP and is backed by Komeito, the party’s junior coalition partner.

Shinnosuke Yamazaki, a 40-year-old independent and former Shizuoka Prefectural Assembly member, is backed by the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the DPP. Chika Suzuki, 50, was endorsed by the JCP.

The Yamaguchi race comes as LDP member and former education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi left the Upper House to run for the Lower House election.

In the Yamaguchi race, three people filed their candidacies. They are former parliamentary vice industry minister Tsuneo Kitamura, 66, from the LDP, former prefectural assembly member Kiyo Kawai, 61, from the JCP and Hezumaryu, a 30-year-old former YouTube prankster.

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