Candidates put priority on foreign security policy in Japan elections

Tokyo Governor and head of the Party of Hope Yuriko Koike (right) answers questions beside President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe (left) during a political debate ahead of the general elections in Tokyo.
Tokyo Governor and head of the Party of Hope Yuriko Koike (right) answers questions beside President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe (left) during a political debate ahead of the general elections in Tokyo. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Foreign policy and security issues have become the focus of election candidates from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition.

A survey has found that 60 per cent of candidates from the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito expressed an intention to emphasise foreign and security policy as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confronts tensions with North Korea.

On the other hand, Kibo no To (Party of Hope) clarified its stance of focusing on the consumption tax and economic measures in taking on the ruling parties.

The survey was conducted from Sept 28, when the lower house was dissolved. Of 1,180 candidates, 1,056 provided answers for a response rate of 89.5 per cent.

Foreign and security issues were the top policy concern among LDP candidates who responded, while Kibo candidates emphasised on the consumption tax.

Both Komeito and Nippon Ishin no Kai indicated free education to be their top issue.

Social security reform was most cited by candidates of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), while constitutional revision ranked first for Japanese Communist Party (JCP) candidates.

When asked about the Abenomics package of economic policies, almost all LDP and Komeito respondents acknowledged the programme's achievements.

Only 20 per cent of Kibo respondents approved of Abenomics, with 70 per cent claiming it had not yielded results.

Eighty per cent of Ishin, 90 per cent of CDPJ and 100 per cent of JCP respondents said it was not successful.

Regarding the planned October 2019 consumption tax rate hike to 10 per cent, more than 90 per cent of LDP and Komeito respondents said it should be implemented, with about 90 per cent of opposition party respondents calling for its postponement. JCP and Social Democratic Party respondents said the tax hike should be cancelled.

When asked about revising the Constitution, 66 per cent of respondents supported revision, up eight points from the previous survey in 2014, while 31 per cent opposed revision, down nine points from the previous survey.

Revision was supported by 98 per cent of LDP respondents, 89 per cent of Komeito respondents and 92 per cent of Kibo respondents.

However, the parties disagree on which changes should be prioritised.

The LDP gave top priority to creating provisions on emergency situations and the possession of forces for national defence. Most Kibo respondents emphasised revisions addressing the roles of the central and local governments, the right to know and privacy rights.