TOKYO — A total of 80 percent of candidates in the July 10 House of Councilors election who responded to a recent Mainichi Shimbun poll called for a “correction” or “revision” of the economic policy mix.” Abenomics” promoted by the Japanese government since under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Mainichi sent questionnaires on key policy measures to 545 candidates in the upcoming elections and had received responses from 526 of them by noon on July 4. Regarding Abenomics, initiated by Abe and taken over by his successors Yoshihide Suga and Fumio Kishida of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a total of 80% of respondents called for it to be reviewed or corrected, suggesting that the rise in prices and widening economic gaps are apparently sensitizing many applicants to the adverse effects of Abenomics.
In the survey, candidates had to choose from three options regarding Abenomics: “the policy should be continued for the time being”, “it can be enhanced but must be corrected” and “it cannot be enhanced and must be reviewed”. . The most frequent response was a call to review the policy at 47%, followed by a desire to fix it at 34% and a call to continue the policy at 15%.
Among opposition candidates, 94% of respondents running on the list of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) called for a review of Abenomics, while all respondents running by the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) replied the same.
Among other opposition parties, 96% of the candidates of the conservative opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party, JIP) called for fixing Abenomics, followed by the candidates of the Democratic People’s Party (DPFP) at 59% and the NHK party at 45%.
Even among the candidates of Komeito, the coalition’s minor partner, 75% of those polled called for a “correction” of Abenomics. As for the ruling LDP, 57% responded that Abenomics should be continued, forming the largest group, while 41% called for the policy to be corrected.
Amid soaring prices around the world, the United States and European countries decided to raise interest rates, which widened the interest gap between Japan, where the easing policy Monetary massive continues under Abenomics, and Western countries, driving down the value of the yen to around 135 yen per dollar.
While the production bases of Japanese companies have not yet fully returned to their homes, the falling yen is accelerating the high cost of living, dealing a serious blow to people’s livelihoods. While Abenomics boosted employment, many of the jobs added were non-regular. Under these circumstances, countermeasures against soaring prices and widening economic gaps have become one of the main points of contention in the election of the upper house.
When it comes to consumption tax in Japan, 71% of candidates who responded to the survey called for the rate to be lowered, well above the 24% who said it should be maintained and the 1% in favor to a sales tax hike. Most opposition candidates have called for lowering the consumption tax, while 85% of LDP candidates and all Komeito candidates want the tax rate maintained.
As for raising taxes on the wealthy population, 57% support the idea while 25% oppose it. Among the opposition parties, all the JCP, Reiwa Shinsengumi and SDP candidates were in favor of the plan, followed by the CDP at 94% and the DPFP at 82%. The Komeito also saw 50% of its candidates favor the move. The LDP was split with 34% for and 35% against, as was the NHK party with 47% in favor and 45% against. Nearly 80% of JIP respondents did not answer or gave answers that were not among the options.
When asked whether the financial burdens on the public should be increased to maintain the social security system or whether benefit levels should be lowered, 32% of the candidates chose the latter to ease the burdens on people, while that 23% opted for the first. The remaining 45% did not answer or gave answers outside the options.
Regarding Prime Minister Kishida’s “new capitalism” economic doctrine, 67% of candidates said they did not like it, while only 18% said they liked it. Thirteen percent of respondents said they weren’t sure. Most opposition candidates had no appreciation for the policy, while 86% and 83% of LDP and Komeito candidates, respectively, liked the plan. Even among ruling party candidates, 11% of LDP candidates and 13% of Komeito candidates said they were “not sure”.
Even though Kishida expressed his eagerness to close the economic gap, he also laid out a plan to double asset-based incomes, which could be interpreted as giving preferential treatment to the wealthy. This contradiction has apparently led some ruling party candidates to become skeptical of the prime minister’s true intentions.
(Japanese original by Shiho Fujibuchi and Tsumuki Nakamura, Policy News Department)