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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is set to promise tax incentives to encourage companies to raise wages as part of its campaign for the upcoming general election.

The move comes after new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made wage increases for the middle class a key part of his LDP leadership campaign.

The LDP platform will also include the enactment of legislation on economic security, according to a draft obtained by Kyodo News, an issue Kishida is focusing on amid fierce competition over technology development between the United States and China.

The LDP approved the campaign promises at its decision-making General Council on Friday and will formally announce the platform early next week.

Kishida, who took office on Monday after being chosen as LDP leader, has said he will dissolve the House of Representatives on Oct. 14 and call a general election on Oct. 31.

The LDP, which is looking to keep control of the powerful Lower House along with its coalition partner Komeito, will pledge financial aid to people hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, including those without regular employment and those with young children, according to the draft.

The platform will also include pushing forward debate on making changes to the postwar Constitution, including amending the war-renouncing Article 9 to include a reference to the Self-Defense Forces.

Kishida on Thursday said he will follow through with his pledge to deliver a "large-scale" stimulus package to give the pandemic-hit economy a shot in the arm as campaigning started for two Upper House by-elections.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida makes a stump speech for a by-election candidate backed by the Liberal Democratic Party in Shizuoka on Thursday. | KYODO
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida makes a stump speech for a by-election candidate backed by the Liberal Democratic Party in Shizuoka on Thursday. | KYODO

The Oct. 24 by-elections in Shizuoka and Yamaguchi prefectures will allow voters to make their feelings known about the new administration ahead of a general election.

"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 for a candidate backed by the LDP in the city of Shizuoka.

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

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said in an interview that the government aims to have a supplementary budget passed by the Diet by the end of the year to finance the stimulus measures. He did not specify the size of the planned budget for the current fiscal year ending March 2022.

Kishida has already pledged to boost middle-class incomes in a course correction from Abenomics, a policy mix that was first pursued by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and carried on by his successor, Yoshihide Suga. The policy was credited with helping lift corporate earnings and stock prices but panned for doing little to spark wage growth.

But he has so far failed to elaborate on how he will bring about such changes and what kind of economic package he seeks. Kishida only said Monday he will launch a new council for achieving his vision of a "new capitalism."

In Shizuoka Prefecture, it is a three-way race between Yohei Wakabayashi, 49, a former mayor of Gotemba backed by the LDP-led ruling coalition; Shinnosuke Yamazaki, 40, supported by the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan; and Chika Suzuki, 50, with the backing of the Japanese Communist Party.

The election in Yamaguchi is a contest between Tsuneo Kitamura, a 66-year-old former trade ministry official backed by the ruling coalition; Kiyo Kawai, 61, of the JCP; and Hezumaryu, 30, a YouTuber backed by a minor opposition party.

The by-elections were called after the LDP's Shigeki Iwai left his House of Councilors seat and ran unsuccessfully in the Shizuoka gubernatorial race in June, while Yoshimasa Hayashi, an LDP lawmaker from Yamaguchi, vacated his Upper House seat to run in the upcoming House of Representatives election.

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