Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is distancing itself from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for constitutional revision to stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), its election campaign pledge suggests.
Instead, Komeito cited a reduction in the financial burden of education as one of its key policy issues.
In "the party's basic stance on the Constitution" section of its campaign promise for the upcoming general election released on Oct. 5, Komeito says it is "not true that we cannot understand" the prime minister's proposal, while adding that "a majority of the public do not think the SDF is unconstitutional."
These phrases highlight a gap with the LDP that characterizes constitutional amendment as one of the key issues in its campaign pledge for the Oct. 22 House of Representatives poll.
"Economic conditions have greatly improved under the LDP-Komeito government. The Abe administration will continue to protect the people's livelihoods and open a path for Japan's future," Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said at a news conference on Oct. 5 when he announced the party's campaign vows at the party headquarters in Tokyo.
Komeito states in its Constitution section that it believes the postwar supreme law is outstanding. The party reiterates its position that additional clauses should be added in cases where challenges that were unable to be predicted when the Constitution was enacted cannot be resolved due to the supreme law's shortcomings. It adds that Article 9's paragraph 1 that renounces war and paragraph 2 that bans Japan from possessing any war potential should be retained.
The party also underscores the importance of "gaining further public understanding" about the SDF and the controversial security-related legislation by properly operating the law, which has opened the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
It also states that efforts should be made to form a broad consensus among as many political parties as possible on constitutional revision before initiating such amendment in the Diet, suggesting that constitutional amendment should not be initiated by the ruling coalition alone.
When the 8 percent consumption tax is raised to 10 percent in October 2019, Komeito says in its promise that the increased revenue should be used to help lessen the financial burden of education on families. Specifically, Komeito has pledged to make preschool education for children up to 5 years old free by 2019 as well as increase the wages of day care workers. Moreover, Komeito incorporated into its campaign vow a measure to make private high school effectively tuition free for households with an annual income of less than 5.9 million yen by 2019.
The pledge also calls for bringing forward a cut in premiums of the nursing care insurance program, eliminating day care waiting lists and introducing a lower consumption tax rate for daily necessities at the time of the sales tax hike. Moreover, Komeito vows to aim for a society that does not rely on nuclear power.