Two Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers Monday declared their candidacies for the Sept 22 LDP presidential election, joining two other candidates who have already entered the race.
Former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, 56, the first female candidate to seek the LDP presidency, told a news conference that the keyword for her policy platform is ''reform,'' while Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano, 70, said he will focus on establishing a ''sustainable society.''
Koike and Yosano will face LDP Secretary General Taro Aso, 67, and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, 51, in the election to choose a successor for outgoing Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori told a meeting of an LDP faction led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura that he intends to support Aso in the presidential election.
Koike, a TV news anchorwoman-turned-lawmaker, said, ''What I will aim for is to change this world, the system of Japanese society. On the other hand, I would like to preserve tradition, family ties and the solidarity of community, which should be preserved.''
On specific policies, Koike said she will consider introducing an environmental tax while stimulating agriculture to eliminate regional disparities and promoting policies from a female perspective.
Yosano told a separate press conference the LDP should not be a party ''that does not feel people's pain. I'm aiming for kindhearted reform.''
He also suggested that he will mull raising the consumption tax, saying, ''I'd like to gain public understanding on the overall tax system and finance, not only on the consumption tax.''
On a consumption tax hike, Koike said she cannot think about it now, although it is an option for Japan to remain a sustainable society in the future.
Yosano also said he would not immediately dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election if he becomes Fukuda's successor so as to prioritize enactment of an extra budget.
''Enactment of the supplementary budget would be the most important task,'' he said. ''Politicians have been entrusted with swiftly carrying out an emergency economic package that includes an extra budget. Considering the cash flow situation of small businesses, the budget must come into effect before the year-end.''
Some senior ruling bloc lawmakers have indicated they anticipate that Fukuda's successor will dissolve the lower house in early October for a snap general election in November.
Other than the four, former LDP policy chief Nobuteru Ishihara, 51, has also shown an interest in running and plans to announce his candidacy Tuesday, according to sources close to Ishihara.
Former State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ichita Yamamoto, who had earlier expressed hope to run in the party election, told reporters Monday night that he will give up the idea. He was struggling to secure the requisite number of recommendations from 20 LDP lawmakers.
Yasufumi Tanahashi, a former state minister for science and technology, is also seen to have difficulty securing the recommendations.
The election campaign is scheduled to start Wednesday.
Fukuda's successor is certain to assume the post of prime minister due to the party's majority in the House of Representatives, the powerful lower house of the Diet.© Wire reports