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LDP platform promises steady economic growth

Date Posted: 2009-08-06

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party hardly had the words of its election manifesto made public before opposition lawmakers began criticizing the positions.

The LDP has chosen to continue its economic programs, which it assures citizens will permit Japan to achieve steady economic growth in coming months. The party forecasts a 2% annual growth rate by next year, and predicts Japan will have the highest per capita income level in the world within ten years. Led by Taro Aso, Japan’s Prime Minister who also doubles as the party’s president, the LDP says it will become necessary to seek some tax system increases, including a moderate 5% consumption tax hike.

The opposition led by Yukio Hatoyama, Aso’s counterpart with the Democratic Party of Japan, slammed the LDP platform for the upcoming elections, saying the LDP has shown no remorse for its causing the public hardship. “They must borrow money and raise the consumption tax rate if they see a shortage of resources,” Hatoyama pointed out. The Japanese Communist Party is also pounding the LDP, demanding change. The Communist Party’s Kazuo Shii says the LDP must apologize an express remorse for policy failures because “it is not aware who is depriving people of peace in their lives.”

The Socialist Democratic Party’s Mizuho Fukushima lambasted the LDP pledge to increase disposable income, telling reporters “I can only give the LDP a grade of 10 (out of a possible 100). Hisaoki Kamei made his own statement taking the LDP to task for only listing measures designed to please voters. The People’s New Party Secretary General says the LDP concept doesn’t show the country any sense of direction.

The LDP is rejecting the opposition complaints and accusations, reassuring a jittery public it is better suited to bring responsible government to the nation in the months ahead. LDP officials point out the ruling party has been open with its explanations on how it will pay for policies, while the DPJ has skirted the issues in its platform. In an education-economic argument, the LDP pledges to waive fees for youngsters, while the DPJ wants to pay each elementary and junior high school child a monthly ¥26,000 stipend. The LDP is asking its opponent to explain where the money will come from for such a plan.

International issues vital to national security are viewed in radically different terms by the two parties. The LDP will continue the Maritime Self Defense Force mission of refueling ships waging the war on terrorism in the Indian Ocean, while the DPJ says it will cancel the mission and bring Japan’s ships home. Similar disagreements exist on whether Japan should continue aiding in the anti-piracy battles off the coast of Africa.

The ruling party remains fully supportive of plans for Japan to assist in moving 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam as part of a troops realignment program. The DPJ, after months of bellicose talk about blocking the moves, which include both money and a need for relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to northern Okinawa, has quietly left the issue out of its campaign platform.

Ironically, the two parties do see eye to eye on some issues, including plans to reduce the size of the Diet. The LDP wants to cut 30% of the total of 722 seats in both chambers, while the DPJ wants to cut lower house seats from 480 to 400.

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