The campaigns of the five candidates competing in the Liberal Democratic Party election are in full swing. At least two themes are very apparent in the race. One is that faction leaders and party elders appear to be regaining power in the nation’s No. 1 opposition party, which lost the reigns of power after its defeat in the August 2009 Lower House election.
The other is that all the candidates are overtly promoting conservative ideas, calling for revising the war-renouncing Constitution and for exercising the right to collective defense, which has been traditionally regarded by the government as being prohibited by the Constitution. They are also showing a hawkish stance over the unfolding territorial rows over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and the Takeshima Islets in the Sea of Japan.
The LDP has promised ahead of the next Lower House elections to revise the constitution to establish an official “national defence force.” There is a good possibility that the next LDP president will likely become the next prime minister because the ruling Democratic Party of Japan will likely lose many seats in the election while the LDP regains lost ground.
The possibility cannot be ruled out that after the election the LDP will tie up with Japan Restoration Party, which is for amending the Constitution. That means that moves to revise the antiwar Article 9 of the Constitution, which has helped Japan gain trust in the postwar international community, will most likely be accelerated.
Some 790,000 LDP members and associate members and 199 LDP Diet members will take part in the party convention to chose its next president on Sept. 26.
Strangely LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki, who played a leading role in making a tripartite agreement among the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito to raise the consumption tax rate, the biggest issue in the latest Diet session, is not running in the LDP presidential race. This is because he failed to garner needed support from faction leaders and party elders.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, former Defense Minister and former LDP policy chief Shigeru Ishiba, former Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara, who served as Mr. Tanigaki’s deputy, and acting LDP policy chief Yoshimasa Hayashi are running in the presidential race. Mr. Machimura was suddenly hospitalized on Tuesday for medical checks.
First and foremost, they must present policy measures to overcome the neoliberal policies of the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, which is believed by many to be largely responsible for the waning of the nation’s middle class. Just talking about a constitutional revision and the exercise of the right to collective defense without seriously tackling the task of stabilizing the economy will only bring misfortune to Japanese politics.
The candidates must present a vision that will give people hope in a brighter future.
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