LDP voices policies in lead-up to pivotal Upper House election


TOKYO: Revising the Constitution, injecting new life into the moribund economic recovery and embracing a more diverse society were just some of the policy measures adopted at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s annual convention Sunday.

“I will never allow Japan to degenerate into the situation three years ago where politics were in disarray, the economy was stagnant and an air of gloom enshrouded Japan,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, referring to the Democratic Party of Japan’s first stint in power from 2009 to 2012.

As his conservative party prepares for the crucial Upper House election in July, the LDP will attempt to revise the Constitution while retaining its fundamental principles, including protection of basic human rights and an adherence to pacifism.

Winning a two-thirds majority in the 242-seat Upper House would make it significantly easier for the LDP to actually amend the supreme law, rather than reinterpret it.

On the economic front, it will continue to pursue its lofty goal of boosting nominal gross domestic product to ¥600 trillion by 2020, by increasing jobs and wages.

Standing onstage, Abe rejected accusations that Abenomics has failed. The data, he confidently claimed, show his three-pronged economic policy has helped the economy get back on its feet over the past few years.

Corporate bankruptcies have fallen 30 percent compared to when the main opposition DPJ was in power, and the number of full-time workers in 2015 spiked by 260,000 from the previous year, marking the first upturn in eight years, he said.

He also noted that lower-end wages have increased for three straight years.

“There is no denying that Abenomics is paying off,” he said.

In an apparent break from the party’s traditional conservatism, the LDP also confirmed its recent policy of aiming for a society where “all 100 million citizens can play an active role.”

The LDP, often criticized for disregarding society’s less fortunate, pledged to bolster support for the disabled, infirm and elderly who are scraping by on low pensions, and other people as well.

The party also said it would create a more female-friendly society by supporting single mothers and eradicating various forms of sexual harassment still inherent in Japan’s male-chauvinist corporate culture.

Still, the party’s hawkish side was not completely out of sight.

The LDP will launch “full-throttle preparations” to act on publicly divisive security laws that will give the Self-Defense Forces the unprecedented right to come to the aid of allies under attack even when Japan is not — an arrangement known as collective self-defense.

Abe charged that concerted attempts by the DPJ and other opposition parties to scrap the laws, which take effect later this month, would risk significantly marring Japan’s newly bolstered relationship with the United States.

He also said the DPJ’s recent electoral tie-up with the Japanese Communist Party — known for radical ambitions that include disbanding the SDF and scrapping the Japan-U.S security treaty — is an “irresponsible” tactic solely intended to win the election.

The Upper House election, therefore, “will be a battle between the politically responsible coalition of the LDP and Komeito versus the DPJ-JCP forces,” Abe said.



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