3 candidates for LDP president differ on economic policies

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
From left: Fumio Kishida, Sanae Takaichi and Taro Kono

Each of the three lawmakers who have declared their candidacy for president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party advocate different economic policies.

A focal point during the election campaign will be how their policies differ from “Abenomics,” the economic policy package advocated by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and taken over by his successor Yoshihide Suga. Another issue will be how they vary over the way the fruits of Abenomics should be distributed.

Campaigning for the election is slated to begin on Sept. 17, with voting on Sept. 29. The three LDP members who have declared their candidacy are Fumio Kishida, former chairperson of the party’s Policy Research Council; Sanae Takaichi, former internal affairs and communications minister; and Taro Kono, minister in charge of administrative and regulatory reforms.

“Social inequality has widened in tandem with economic growth. Both growth and [income] distribution are needed,” Kishida stressed during a TV program aired on Saturday by Television Nishinippon Corp.

While praising the benefits of Abenomics, and pledging to maintain them, Kishida believes that the profits gained through Abenomics have concentrated in certain companies, widening disparities.

He advocates a “new Japanese-style capitalism,” shifting from policies based on neoliberalism to ones that would prioritize fairer distribution. To beef up income distribution to middle-income earners, Kishida will push forward support for the housing and education expenses of child-rearing households.

To cope with the novel coronavirus pandemic, he spelled out fiscal stimulus measures worth tens of trillions of yen. But Kishida also attaches importance to fiscal discipline, saying, “I will not take down the flag of fiscal reconstruction.”

Kono also wants to modify the course pursued under Abenomics.

“The business sector was able to gain much greater profits, but the gains did not ripple over to wages,” Kono said at a press conference on Friday during which he declared his candidacy. “I want to think about an economy that attaches importance to individuals,” he said, advocating for preferential tax measures for companies that have enhanced labor’s share of income.

Kono has consistently positioned digitization and decarbonization, key policy measures pursued by Prime Minister Suga, at the center of his economic policies. He aims to realize economic growth through increased investments in such technologies as the next-generation 5G mobile network, which could facilitate teleworking; storage batteries and photovoltaic power generation technologies, which will be indispensable in a decarbonized society.

In contrast, Takaichi advocates following Abenomics with what she calls “Sanaenomics.”

She asserts that she will freeze the government’s fiscal health restoration goal of bringing the primary fiscal balance into the black until Japan realizes inflation of 2% while implementing large-scale monetary easing and fiscal spending.

Takaichi will strive to realize flexible fiscal spending, as advocated in Abenomics, through “crisis management investments” in preparation for large-scale natural disasters, and “growth investments” in such areas as robotics and semiconductor technologies.

During a TV program broadcast Saturday by Yomiuri Telecasting Corp., Takaichi emphasized, “It [drastic fiscal spending] will create jobs and raise wages, which are guaranteed to return as tax revenue.”