LDP must responsibly steer nation amid increasingly difficult times

The Liberal Democratic Party must deal with the drastically changing international situation, and at the same time, it must curb damage to the economy. The LDP must steer the nation with an awareness of the weight of the responsibility it bears as the governing party.

The LDP has held its annual party convention. In his speech as LDP president, with the Ukraine situation and the COVID-19 crisis in mind, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed, “No one but the ruling coalition of the LDP and Komeito can take charge of the country as Japan faces national challenges that will mark the course of history.”

As the novel coronavirus pandemic has dragged on, the nation’s economy has deteriorated. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made the security environment even more difficult, including in Asia.

The tightening of economic sanctions against Russia will inevitably lead to a sharp rise in crude oil prices, and there are concerns about their impact on the economy. All of these are unprecedented challenges. The leadership of the prime minister is being tested in order for the government and ruling parties to work together to overcome these challenges.

The LDP and Komeito, together with the opposition Democratic Party for the People, have begun talks on measures to curb gasoline prices. The DPFP is calling for the lifting of the freeze on a trigger clause to temporarily cut gasoline taxes. Komeito is also said to be in favor of lifting it.

However, the central and local governments would then see a significant decrease in tax revenues. The LDP should make a responsible decision on what is the best measure to stabilize people’s lives.

Regarding the House of Councillors elections this summer, the prime minister said, “Let’s win the election through the cooperation of the LDP and Komeito to take responsibility for political stability.”

After the upper house elections, there will be no national elections until the next upper house election in the summer of 2025, unless the House of Representatives is dissolved for general elections. The prime minister probably intends to take time to work on the “new form of capitalism” he advocates and the strengthening of defense capabilities after building a stable political base.

In the past two upper house elections, the LDP and Komeito mutually endorsed each other’s candidates across the nation under the leadership of the parties’ headquarters.

This time, however, some local LDP organizations objected to mutual endorsement of candidates, and Komeito protested the local LDP moves. As a result, it has been decided that each prefectural chapter will decide on its own how to cooperate in elections.

In his speech, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi emphasized, “The groundwork for unity between the two parties has been laid.” But there is no denying that some ill-feeling lingers between the ruling coalition parties.

Both sides need to communicate well with each other to achieve political stability and ensure that there are no obstacles to the implementation of their policies.

At the party convention, the LDP decided on a campaign policy of actively promoting policy discussions with the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) and friendly labor unions.

Cooperation with the private sector is necessary to achieve employment stability and wage increases. It is important for the LDP to deepen cooperation with various sectors of society in order to increase the effectiveness of its policies.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on March 15, 2022.