TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, this week set Oct. 31 as the date for a national election for the lower house of parliament.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner currently have a near two-thirds majority of the 465 seats in the house, and Kishida is hoping they retain a majority.
Here are key facts about Japan’s main political parties.
LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Number of lower house seats currently held: 274
The LDP has nurtured close ties with business and the bureaucracy, and has been in power almost non-stop since its formation, aside from a three-year hiatus between 2009-2012.
Under Shinzo Abe’s leadership the LDP reclaimed its status as the party of government in 2012.
Abe led the LDP to three victories in lower house elections, and in doing so became Japan’s longest serving prime minister. He stepped down last year citing ill health.
Under his “Abenomics” stimulus policies, share prices and corporate profits boomed, but household wealth shrank as companies have been reluctant to boost wages.
While still pursuing economic growth, Kishida has made narrowing the wealth gap part of his agenda.
The LDP proposes revising the U.S.-drafted, pacifist constitution in four areas, including enshrining the role of the Self Defence Forces.
For all the lingering anxiety over nuclear power plants since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Kishida believes nuclear energy should remain an option for Japan to ensure stable and affordable electricity.
Number of lower house seats currently held: 29
The Komeito, founded by members of the Soka Gakkai Buddhist sect, was a junior partner in LDP-led governments for 10 years until the ruling alliance’s defeat in the 2009 election. But it returned to power with the LDP in the December 2012 election.
Komeito is more moderate on security issues than the LDP. When it comes to economic policies, the party seeks to defend the interests of less well-off citizens. Last year, Komeito pressed ahead with a programme to pay out 100,000 yen ($896) per citizen to help them cope with the pandemic.
CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JAPAN (CDPJ)
Number of lower house seats currently held: 110
The centre-left CDPJ is Japan’s largest opposition party. Although it was only formed last year, the CDPJ’s roots lie in the Democratic Party of Japan, which succeeded in defeating the LDP-Komeito alliance in 2009, and held power for three years.
The party advocates halving the sales tax to 5% temporarily, in order to cushion the blow from the pandemic.
Its climate change policies are more ambitious than the LDP’s. The CDPJ has targeted cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 55% or more from 2013 levels by 2030, compared with the government’s target of a 46% reduction.
An Asahi daily survey showed on Wednesday 13% of those polled plan to vote for the CDPJ in the upcoming election, far behind the LDP’s 41%.
JAPANESE COMMUNIST PARTY (JCP)
Number of lower house currently held: 12
A party with a history of nearly a century, the JCP calls for doubling the number of hospital beds for infectious disease patients to better fight the pandemic, and having the wealthy and big companies shoulder more of the tax burden.
JAPAN INNOVATION PARTY (JIP)
Website: https://o-ishin.jp (Japanese only)
Number of lower house currently held: 10
The JIP calls for deregulation, tax cuts and decentralisation of authority to help trigger growth. It favours constitutional revisions and has been seen as a possible ally for the LDP’s push to revise the charter.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY FOR THE PEOPLE (DPFP)
Website: https://new-kokumin.jp (Japanese only)
Number of lower house seats currently held: 8
The party calls for a stimulus package worth 50 trillion yen to support those hit by the coronavirus pandemic. It regards nuclear power as an important option for Japan, until alternative energy sources are firmly established.
Among the other smaller parties, one of the more interest is a regional party Tokyo Citizens First, formed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. It said earlier this month it would launch a national party and contest the lower house election.
($1 = 111.5700 yen)
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)