Japan’s new prime minister announces legislative elections on October 31
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Wanting to take advantage of the momentum following his recent entry into office, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dissolved the Lower House of Parliament on Thursday 14 October and announced legislative elections for 31 October. Elected on September 29 at the head of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD, in power), he succeeded, on October 4, to Yoshihide Suga. The PLD wants to take advantage of the image of novelty embodied by Mr. Kishida and the improvement in the health situation, with a daily number of new cases of Covid-19 falling to 731 on October 13, against 1,574 on September 30, and with 65.4% of the population fully vaccinated.
Two days before the disbandment, the party unveiled a program focused on the “Reconstruction of the important middle class” from Japan. Mr. Kishida spoke about “Kishidanomics” – with reference to the abenomics of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2012-2020), a recovery plan combining monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms – through stimulus measures “Tens of trillions of yen” and the promise of a “New capitalism”, providing for a better distribution of wealth in a country with growing inequalities.
The other strong ambition of the PLD is to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP, breaking with the tradition of keeping it below 1%. This doubling must, according to Sanae Takaichi, the very nationalist responsible for the policies of the PLD, “Demonstrate our determination to defend the life, property, land, territorial waters, airspace, sovereignty and honor of the Japanese people”.
United opposition front
The rate of support for the Kishida cabinet when it took office stood at 55.7%, according to the Kyodo agency, far from the 66.4% of the Suga administration in September 2020. Basically, most of the measures proposals by the ruling party, such as tax breaks for companies that raise wages, have already been implemented. The party did not retain in its program Mr. Kishida’s proposal to revise the taxation of financial products. The head of government has also moderated his commitment to redistribution, explaining that Japan must first return to growth.
The four main components of the opposition, of which the largest, the Constitutional Democratic Party, and the Japanese Communist Party (PCJ), present a united front for this election. The PDC promotes increased budgets for health and education, and improved public assistance to low-income households, while increasing taxes for the wealthy, both individuals and businesses. “We will ask those who have benefited from the abenomics to pay a fair share”, said PDC chairman Yukio Edano, referring to the policies of Shinzo Abe and then Yoshihide Suga (2020-2021) which, according to the opposition, have deepened inequalities.
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