10/30/2021, 13.19
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Japan election: Liberal Democrats leading but struggling

Tomorrow the country goes to the polls. Prime Minister Kishida is expected to get a smaller majority. His pledges include more actions against COVID-19 and a "new capitalism". For his opponents, the Liberal Democrats favour only the rich. The opposition is divided over foreign and defence policies.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is expected to win again in tomorrow’s election to the House of Representatives, the lower house of the National Diet, albeit with a smaller majority than in the outgoing legislature, which backed the outgoing government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

According to the latest polls, the LDP, and its small Buddhist-inspired Komeito party ally, is likely to pass the threshold of 233 seats out of a total of 465. Prime Minister Kishida’s party is leading in 200 single-member constituencies and is neck-and-neck with the opposition in another 70.

On 4 October, Kishida replaced Yoshihide Suga at the head of the government. His predecessor left office due to the decline in support as a result of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister has promised more hospital beds for coronavirus patients and a "new capitalism" to trigger economic growth. On the second point, he said he wanted to ensure a better distribution of wealth to expand the middle class, a Japanese liberal version of the "common prosperity” theme proposed in China by President Xi Jinping.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) has questioned Kishida's commitment to eliminating socio-economic disparities in the country. According to the main opposition force, "Abenomics" under Shinzo Abe and his successor Suga only favoured big industry and finance, without increasing workers' wages.

With the support of the Communist Party of Japan and other allies, the CDP are proposing to lower the consumption tax and pass a law on equal rights for LGBT people. They also want to abandon nuclear power and replace it with renewable energies. However, differences in foreign and defence policies risk undermining opposition efforts.

Kishida instead has clear ideas on the matter, like doubling military spending to 2 per cent of GDP. For the LDP, this is a necessary choice in light of China’s rapid rearmament and North Korea’s missile threat.

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