Arab News Japan
TOKYO: The heads of Japan’s ruling and opposition parties on Tuesday hit the streets in Tokyo and other locations in the country, seeking voters’ support for the upcoming general elections of the House of Representatives, which takes place on Oct. 31.
Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio is seeking a mandate for his COVID-19 and economic policies while Japan’s numerous opposition parties – some of whom oppose each other – are making another effort to put up a united front in a bid to loosen the ruling coalition’s grip on power.
Analysts say this election’s result will be an assessment of the past four years of the administrations of Kishida’s two immediate predecessors – ABE Shinzo and SUGA Yoshihide – and how the voters view the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the Lower House election is the first national poll to be held since the start of the pandemic, key issues include COVID-19 countermeasures and steps to shore up the economy hurt by the crisis.
A total of 1,051 people submitted their candidacies to vie for a total of 465 Lower House seats.
Leading the opposition camp is EDANO Yukio, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. In a campaign speech, he said Japan needs a change in government.
“Let us return to a politics that is honest and change the politics that has become old-fashioned,” he said. He stressed his party aims to rebuild the country’s middle class through income redistribution.
Edano’s CDPJ has been emphasizing the redistribution of wealth. But policies in election campaign’s are invariably vague in Japan and loyalties are equally fluid. Japan’s opposition has been blighted by infighting and lack of strong leaders, Edano among them. Whether or not he now has the confidence of the electorate is debatable, but in terms of numbers, the CDPJ has the advantage among the opposition parties.
At the start of campaigning, Taro Yamamoto of Reiwa Shinsengumi party stood on a truck in front of JR Shinjuku Station, one of the world’s most busiest station, to appeal to voters. “Even before COVID-19 hit, many people were suffering due to an economy whose foundation has been sinking,” he said, calling for aggressive government spending to prevent a collapse of society. He has pledged to cut the 10% consumption tax to zero for three years, saying tax affects the incomes of low-income households and it accelerates poverty.
Yamamoto is everything Edano is not: young, vibrant, outspoken, dynamic. He has great appeal for many voters, especially younger voters, and is opposed to nuclear power. He made his name as an entertainer before politics and that kind of popular appeal may prove valuable in a united opposition. Whether or not that could survive into government remains an unanswered question.