People listen to a politician making a stump speech in Nagoya on Wednesday, the first day of campaigning for the July 10 House of Councillors election. Photo: KYODO
politics

Campaigning starts for Japan's upper house election on July 10

22 Comments

Official campaigning began Wednesday in Japan for the House of Councillors election on July 10, as the ruling and opposition parties rush to address inflation concerns and spar over whether a more robust defense posture is necessary in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine.

A total of 125 seats are up for grabs in the 248-member upper house, with over 530 people expected to file their candidacies.

The triennial election is a critical test for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to gauge voter confidence in his handling of government after nearly nine months spent bolstering the country's COVID-19 response, taking a tough stance on Russia and scrambling to ease the pain on households from rising prices of energy and everyday items like food.

The Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Kishida, aims to maintain a majority of the seats in the upper house with its coalition partner Komeito, which would allow them to stably run the government for the next three years.

"This election has put under the spotlight who can deliver results in facing major challenges including the rebuilding of Fukushima, the fight against the novel coronavirus, response to the Ukraine crisis and rising prices," Kishida said in a stump speech in Fukushima, which suffered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

"We need political stability to overcome these challenges," the premier said as he called for voters' support.

With half of the 248 seats uncontested, the target is seen as not high as the ruling coalition only needs to win 56 seats this time, down from the 69 seats they had before the election.

Rising prices are making both the ruling and opposition parties wary of their impact on the campaign. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is taking issue with a lack of concrete steps by the government to alleviate consumer worries and calling it "Kishida inflation."

"We cannot tolerate politics that ignore your lives and your household budgets," said CDPJ leader Kenta Izumi in Aomori, northeastern Japan, noting the LDP-led government has lacked a sense of urgency in addressing the issue.

"The CDPJ has been repeatedly saying this price increase has a negative impact on many people, and things are starting to change. Rising prices have become a point of contention in this election," Izumi said.

Kishida has rejected he is to blame over inflation, attributing the inflationary trend to Russia's invasion of Ukraine since late February that has sent energy and raw material prices soaring, a headache for resource-scarce Japan.

The war has also ramped up calls, especially within the LDP, for bolstering Japan's defense, accompanied by a sharp increase in related spending. The ruling party also wants to allow the nation -- long committed to an exclusively defense-oriented policy -- to acquire a "counterstrike" capability amid missile threats.

Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii said in Tokyo, "War or peace. Japan's fate depends on this election. We seek to advance by appealing we will stop war and bring hope to people's lives."

In Japan, upper house members serve six years, and half of the seats in the 248-member upper house are contested every three years. For the July election, 124 seats -- 74 in electoral districts and 50 by proportional representation -- are contested, together with one left vacant in the other half of the chamber.

One of the key numbers to watch is 82, which would give pro-constitutional revision forces the two-thirds majority of 166 seats in the upper house needed to initiate any revision to the Constitution when combined with those uncontested this time.

The LDP is aiming to "update" the supreme law that has never been amended since its 1946 promulgation, in part to explicitly mention the Self-Defense Forces in a revised version to clarify its status, and the opposition Japan Innovation Party is also pushing for an amendment.

While Kishida said in his speech he hopes to work on the revision, Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima said in an online program that her party is against the revision and warned, "If the forces for revising the Constitution secures two-thirds (of upper house seats) they will propose the revision."

In previous upper house elections, major opposition parties joined forces to counter the ruling coalition. Heading into the upcoming poll, the bloc remains fractured as only 11 districts will see a candidate from the opposition camp pitted against a ruling party rival.

The main opposition CDPJ and the smaller Democratic Party for the People have been diverging in recent months even as they share the same support base Rengo, or the Japanese Trade Union Confederation. The DPP is warming to the ruling coalition under the name of policy coordination.

The Japan Innovation Party, which more than tripled the number of its seats in the House of Representatives after the lower house election in October, is seeking to expand its growing support base beyond its stronghold in the Kansai region centering on Osaka.

The more powerful lower house is now also controlled by the ruling coalition.

Campaign pledges

The following is a comparison of campaign pledges made by major Japanese political parties on key issues for the House of Councillors election on July 10.

(Foreign Policy/Security/Constitution)

Liberal Democratic Party will:

-- increase defense spending over the next five years with an eye to an amount equivalent to 2 percent or more of GDP in line with NATO members.

-- enable Japan to acquire a "counterstrike" ability in view of ballistic missile threats from North Korea.

-- aim to "update" the Constitution at an early date by promoting parliamentary debate and putting a revision proposal to a national referendum.

Komeito will:

-- work to bolster Japan's defense capability steadily while keeping to a long-standing exclusively-defense oriented policy.

-- uphold the long-held three nonnculear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear arms on its territory.

-- "consider" the need to add a reference to the Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan will:

-- prioritize the quality, not size, of the defense budget.

-- promote defense policy under the Japan-U.S. alliance.

-- step up parliamentary debate on constitutional reform, oppose the idea of adding a reference to the SDF in war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

The Japan Innovation Party will:

-- boost defense spending to 2 percent of more of GDP.

-- review the policy of keeping Japan's defense capability to a minimum necessary.

-- revise Article 9 of the Constitution while upholding pacifism.

The Japanese Communist Party will:

-- oppose doubling national defense spending, Japan's acquisition of a counterstrike capability.

-- oppose revising Article 9 to enable Japan to go to war.

The Democratic Party for the People will:

-- allow Japan to acquire a strike capability for self-defense.

-- boost defense spending as needed, review the Japan-U.S. status of forces agreement.

-- create a new clause in the Constitution to enable an extension to the terms of Diet members in case of contingency, advance debate on whether to revise Article 9.

(Inflation/Economy/Taxation/COVID-19)

LDP will:

-- take powerful and flexible measures against rising prices of goods and energy.

-- retain subsidies for oil wholesalers to bring down retail gasoline prices.

-- increase investment in human resources, ensure economic growth followed by fiscal restoration.

-- promote vaccinations, domestic development of treatment drugs.

Komeito will:

-- raise the minimum wage and fix the pay gap between men and women.

-- increase lump sum childbirth, child-rearing benefits.

-- aim for the launch of new command center functions to cope with infectious diseases, similar to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDPJ will:

-- reduce the consumption tax temporarily from the current 10 percent to 5 percent.

-- revise an agreement between the government and the Bank of Japan to proceed with powerful monetary easing to achieve 2 percent inflation.

-- boost spending on programs related to child-rearing to around 3 percent of GDP.

-- create a "family doctor" system for infectious diseases so proper medical treatment will be provided to people at the risk of developing severe symptoms.

Japan Innovation Party will:

-- lower the consumption tax.

-- work on an exit strategy for monetary easing.

-- keep the corporate tax rate at 15 percent for small and midsize companies.

-- review the designation of COVID-19 to make it the same as the flu.

JCP will:

-- immediately cut the consumption tax from 10 percent to 5 percent.

-- call on major firms and wealthy people to shoulder higher tax burdens.

-- fundamentally review monetary easing launched under "Abenomics" policy, blamed for accelerating inflation.

-- strengthen regional health care systems and testing regimes.

DPP will:

-- ensure stronger wage growth with aggressive fiscal spending and monetary easing.

-- create a basic-income program that combines payouts and income tax refunds.

-- provide 100,000 yen ($730) to households to help counter inflation.

-- keep the economy going based on scientific evidence while taking steps to curb infections and boost testing.

(Energy)

LDP will:

-- aim to restart idled nuclear power plants that have passed strict safety standards.

-- promote maximum use of renewable energy.

Komeito will:

-- gain consent from local municipalities before restarting nuclear power plants whose safety has been confirmed.

-- achieve a society that does not rely on nuclear power in the future, boost energy sufficiency.

CDPJ will:

-- realize carbon neutrality at the earliest possible date before 2050.

-- oppose construction of new nuclear power plants, restart of existing ones without local consent or proper emergency evacuation plans.

Japan Innovation Party will:

-- restart existing nuclear power plants that remain offline as soon as their safety is ensured.

-- promote research and development in the field of small modular reactors, phase out aging nuclear reactors.

JCP will:

-- strive for the immediate end to nuclear power generation.

-- cut dependence on coal-fired thermal power generation to zero in fiscal 2030.

DPP will:

-- strictly enforce the government-mandated 40-year operating limit on nuclear reactors.

-- allow idled nuclear power plants to resume operation with local consent and emergency evacuation plans.

© KYODO

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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Kishida has rejected he is to blame over inflation, attributing the inflationary trend to Russia's invasion of Ukraine since late February that has sent energy and raw material prices soaring, a headache for resource-scarce Japan.

Russia's invasion didn't cause the rise in energy prices. It was the self imposed sanctions by the west. Russia will happily sell you some cheap oil and gas...especially if you pay in Rubles!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and only the Communist Party has any clue

they have a real marketing problem though. Whenever I see a JCP poster on someone’s property, the property is a dilapidated mess. Wouldn’t they do that to the country, too?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

just a lot of crap.

as always.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I was forced to listen to them all and only the Communist Party has any clue. 25 years of decline will continue in this one party state.

listen to @trevor if you care about your health. Plug up!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

vote for anyone NOT LDP, time for change

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if the JIP is intended to eventually replace Komeito as the LDP's primary partners as Komeito are not happy with abandoning constitutional constraints on military action?

quote: Heading into the upcoming poll, the [opposition] bloc remains fractured.

So the LDP and allies to win by a country mile then. A one party state with elections. Xi must be green with envy. Someone buy the opposition a book on politics.

quote: I see no mention of the individual parties' stances pertaining to restarting of the tourism industry.

Because restarting tourism would lose you votes from everyone except the ritually sacrificed remains of the tourist industry. Japan no more wants tourists than it wants migrant workers. Abe's economic nationalists have been replaced by ideological nationalists, happy to pay any price for nationalist purity.

quote: How many women can you see in the photo?

Five plus one or two blurry possibles, but some of those blokes might self-identify as women. It doesn't say which party is involved. 5+ might be a record for an LDP photo.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

How many women can you see in the photo ?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

i wonder how is the weather like in Japan these days. Am I the only one who feels somewhat ‘poor you’ while looking at people wearing masks in this unbearable heat and humidity, some even a jacket...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I see no mention of the individual parties' stances pertaining to restarting of the tourism industry, and if their parties will push to increase the numbers of us gaijin tourists back to Japan or not. As a gaijin, I hope that Japan will reopen her borders again after the election. I mean, I read recently that only 1,600 tourists have applied to travel to Japan under the "guided tours" program over the next two months. Crazy stuff.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Brought and paid for, why bother. Oh yer cos it’s another way of moving tax funds into ya mates pockets.

rinse and repeat

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Not one party argued for keeping the border closed to foreigners - meaning the travel ban was falsely touted by media outlets as an election-year justification.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The biggest lie :

The LDP will take powerful and flexible measures against rising prices of goods and energy.

We can all see that the LDP has done exactly the opposite.

The LDP has taken powerful measures that has raised the prices of goods and energy.

If the LDP continues - then costs will continue to rise and war will be inevitable !

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Defense posture is necessary in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine

Has absolutely nothing to do with the war in Ukraine !

Japan should mind its own business , stay neutral and pacifist and take care of it's own people.

Make peace with China and Russia and Korea's and show the world this new great Japanese democracy !

A leader of peace and unity.

That's the best way .

Going to war is not a wise decision .

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The Japanese people aren’t so dumb that they can’t handle the truth.

Yes they are not dumb and grasp the truth that fiscal austerity schemes are to wring austerity from the people to pay off the corporate welfare and QE of decades of neo-liberal policies by the LDP.

Unfortunately the media and one party oligopoly has done a fine job of excluding any alternatives.

The regressive consumption tax is another mechanism to lay this burden for the bad finances of the LDP and their Japan Inc. cronies on the workers of Japan.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

HBJ,

Yes I am personally a fan of Japan Innovation Party (I note that the commie party calls for me to pay more tax, but that doesn’t seem like a fair deal to me at all), but the Innovation Party is saying some somewhat tame things.

But take a close look:

-- work on an exit strategy for monetary easing.

This is a very direct repudiation of the ridiculous and now hated notion that forcing prices to rise would be a wonderful idea. No, everyone hates the idea and now the reality of rising prices. In a year when the Russians have invaded another country, Japan’s former safe haven currency should have gone up, but rather it has been tanking - one American commentator I saw this week was observing this and suggesting it could be a sign of a black swan event.

So the Japan Innovation Party is not saying let’s continue, they are talking about an exit. This is something in common with one of the other opposition parties.

I would be glad to hear what the Japan Innovation Party would really like to do, but seems to me they don’t want to frighten the horses too much… and they no doubt no more about the Japanese voter than I.

But frankly, I am disappointed to see them also talking about a consumption tax rate cut, without saying what they will do about Japan’s horrid finances.

Frankly the government needs to slash spending in half, and then use what trifling revenues remain to start paying down the 300% of debt to gdp that those LDP and Komeito disasters have racked up. I mean, the article is even mentioning examples of subsidy programs. Slash those.

But to talk of cutting consumption tax (giving a tax break to wealthy folks in the process) without also talking about spending cuts that have to be made, is dishonest politically.

The Japanese people aren’t so dumb that they can’t handle the truth. The debt is not a secret. Come out and honestly say that we need to deal with it, and I don’t think the Japanese voter would react so badly.

On the contrary, this reset is needed for Japan to start showing some life again.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So how soon after this election will it be that PCR testing be dropped and tourists allowed back in? Not a peep about it from any party, presumably to keep the Jimin's racist fans quiet.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I see a total of two people under the age of 50 in this picture

Being generous on the "50", I would have said 60! It's because everyone else is slaving away when they held this rall

Oh, I would also bet the one " younger" looking guy was working there and not part of the actually audience!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Great to see the breakdown of campaign pledges by party.

The 'Japan Innovation Party' doesn't seem very innovative though! Most of their campaign pledges are exactly the same as those of the LDP.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I see a total of two people under the age of 50 in this picture.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

If you're out on the streets, put in your earplugs!

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Did Kyodo, and I am sure they did, pick the worst pitch/quote from the JCP?

Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii said in Tokyo, "War or peace. Japan's fate depends on this election. We seek to advance by appealing we will stop war and bring hope to people's lives."

The JCP cannot even stop the LDP' s corporate welfare, much less conflict in the world. It sounds like a meaningless quote by Kishida to "protect the lives of Japanese people" while he gifts his cronies.

It should be a drumbeat of:

Failure to help the people of Fukushima over a decade later.

Japanese workers poorer in real terms than South Korean workers.

LDP response to the pandemic, Ukraine, inflation has been no assistance to workers just more corporate welfare. Socialism for the rich and rising inequality.

Some do not have the incentive to win.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

A lot of topics offered for discussion by the various political parties, but when you ask the man in the street, the topics on demand for discussion are far less in numbers.

To compare what the LDP has on offer with what their voters ask for, here yesterday's poll by Sankei Shinbun (hysterically conservative):

https://www.sankei.com/article/20220620-3TCATXQF7VIWLBMFA3ZBJNGVYI/?outputType=theme_election2022

.rising prices: 38.9 pct (new topic hot in demand since this year)

.economy and employment: 33.4 pct (a "classic" top 3 demand since, like, forever)

.pensions, social security: 32.3 pct (another "classic" top 3 demand)

.child-raising, demographics: 29.6 pct (yet another "classic" top 3 demand)

.energy, environment: 12.4 pct (mid-top 10 demand)

.diplomacy, defense: 12.3 pct (mid-top 10 demand)

.COVID: 12.2 pct (hot in demand since 2020)

.fiscal consolidation, administrative reforms: 11.2 pct (top 10 demand)

.constitutional revision: 9.6 pct (usual last or second-to-last demand)

Most of what the LDP offers:

.is of zero interest to the public (e.g. constitutional revision)

.is "fuzzy" at best (e.g. dealing rising prices, "social capitalism")

.has not been delivered for, like, ever... (e.g. fiscal consolidation)

Still, he can be sure that the LDP will win...This is just so depressing...

0 ( +10 / -10 )

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