Komeito, the junior partner of the Liberal Democratic Party in the ruling coalition, has announced its campaign pledges for the July 10 upper house election, which include an endorsement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to postpone the consumption tax hike to 2019.
But Komeito was mute on the controversial issue of amending the Constitution, as Abe is eager to do, in contrast to the pledges it made before the elections for the upper house in 2013 and lower house in 2014.
Komeito then called constitutional revision one of the “important political issues,” and proposed “adding” new ideas and clauses to the Constitution such as a right of Japanese citizens to a healthy natural environment.
Revising the country’s supreme law “will not be a campaign issue,” Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told a press conference, even though opposition parties are warning the public that victory by the ruling parties next month could set the stage for revising the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9.
“Our basic stance is that we should (first) deepen discussions on the issue through the Diet’s constitution commissions and elsewhere and seek wider support from the public,” Yamaguchi said.
The LDP is also apparently downplaying the matter out of concern at triggering a public backlash. Only briefly at the very bottom of its campaign pledge list does it say it will aim at revision.
On the economic front, Komeito expressed support for delaying the 2-percentage-point consumption tax hike to October 2019 from April 2017. Yet it also vows to bolster child-rearing support and social security measures to the extent possible without issuing government bonds to pay the added cost.
Instead, Komeito proposed paying the tab using the “fruits” of the “Abenomics” monetary and fiscal policy mix that the prime minister has pursued over the past three and a half years.
In an effort to address poverty, Komeito proposes creating a scholarship program in which recipients will not have to repay the money. It also promised to work to revise the Political Funds Control Law to make lawmakers bear more responsibility for the actions of their staff to address money scandals.
Regarding nuclear power, Komeito said it will allow reactors to resume operating that have cleared tougher safety requirements imposed in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. But it said it will not allow the construction of new reactors.
The Japanese Communist Party also announced its campaign promises on Thursday, which in particular call for scrapping new security laws that it believes contravene the pacifist Constitution and object to any constitutional revision under Abe’s government.
“The prime minister has said this election is about Abenomics, but we will not allow him to only focus on that issue. The election should call into question his reckless handling of the government, in which he has ignored public opinion,” JCP leader Kazuo Shii said at a press conference.
The security laws, which expand the scope for the Self-Defense Forces to operate overseas, passed the Diet last year and took effect in March despite a wave of public protests.
The most notable change is that Japan is now allowed, although in a limited manner, to exercise the right to collective self-defense—or coming to the aid of the United States and other friendly nations under armed attack even if Japan itself is not attacked.