Sun, October 24, 2021

international

LDP presidential candidates’ views ahead of Wednesday’s election


The election to replace LDP President Yoshihide Suga, the departing prime minister, is set for Wednesday, when the Liberal Democratic Party’s Diet members will vote, and the ballots of rank-and-file members as well as members of affiliated groups will be counted.

The candidates are Taro Kono, 58, administrative and regulatory reform minister; Fumio Kishida, 64, former LDP Policy Research Council chairperson; Sanae Takaichi, 60, former internal affairs and communications minister; and Seiko Noda, 61, LDP executive acting secretary general.

The need to restart nuclear power plants is a view shared by all four candidates vying to become the party president and next prime minister. Sharp differences among the hopefuls emerge, however, over the country’s overall energy policy.

While the four agree that nuclear power plants should be restarted, Kono has a negative view on building new plants. He has been the only candidate to mention the need to review the nuclear fuel cycle in which spent nuclear fuel is reused.

“We should end [the nuclear fuel cycle] as soon as possible,” he has said.

Kishida and Takaichi call for maintaining nuclear power technology and developing next-generation small modular reactors.

Noda proposes a plan to promote geothermal power generation.

Regarding the pension system, Kono advocates the creation of a guaranteed minimum pension funded by the consumption tax. Kono is also critical of the current system.

“Those who don’t have the income to pay insurance premiums will see their pensions reduced and will be forced to receive public assistance,” he has said.

Takaichi has said that Kono’s proposal would mean “a hefty tax increase.”

Kishida and Takaichi are calling for expanding the coverage of the employees’ pension program to self-employed people.

On defense policy, Takaichi and Kishida approve of Japan possessing the capability to attack enemy bases, including enemy missile launch sites, for self-defense purposes. Takaichi has called for enacting laws to allow Japan to “promptly nullify [the abilities of] enemy bases,” while Kishida has said that this is “a viable option.”

Kono and Noda are not in favor of that approach. Kono has questioned the feasibility of the idea, arguing, “This discussion only applies to the era when missiles are launched from fixed bases.”

There was general agreement, however, on the direction to take regarding issues such as constitutional revision, measures against the novel coronavirus and relations with Taiwan.

All say they respect the four-item revision proposal compiled by the LDP in 2018, which includes a clear stipulation of the legal grounds for the Self-Defense Forces, and intend to proceed along these lines in Diet deliberations.

They also share the view that the central government needs to take the lead in securing hospital beds in order to bring the pandemic under control.

Published : September 29, 2021