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Abe to stress need to continue policies in campaign pledge for LDP leadership race

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has drawn up an outline of his campaign pledge for the upcoming presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), underscoring the need to continue his economic and other policies.

In his pledge, Abe, 63, will emphasize the achievements his government has made over the past five years and eight months, and declare he will "work on drastic reforms toward an era that will follow the Heisei era." Abe will thus highlight the differences between his policies and those of his rival Shigeru Ishiba, 61, who is critical of the prime minister's efforts.

The Sept. 20 LDP leadership election, whose campaigning kicks off on Sept. 7, will likely be a two-way battle between Abe and Ishiba, former secretary-general of the party.

The prime minister will declare he is determined to achieve economic growth, reform the social security system, revitalize local economies, carry out diplomacy from a broad perspective and revise the Constitution.

On the economic front, Abe will promise to make sure that Japan will overcome prolonged deflation through the Abenomics economic policy mix that includes large-scale monetary easing by the Bank of Japan, and aim to increase Japan's gross domestic product to a postwar high of 600 trillion yen.

Based on the LDP's campaign pledge for the October 2017 House of Representatives election, Abe will aspire to transform the country's social security system, which mainly covers elderly people, into one targeting all generations through such measures as making education free.

His government will also continue to aim to increase the total fertility rate -- a figure denoting the rate at which people who want to have children have their hopes fulfilled -- to 1.8 and decrease the number of people forced to quit their jobs to care for their aging or ailing family members to zero.

With regard to the revitalization of local economies, Abe will offer to support innovative projects. Specifically, the prime minister will pledge to reform the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, spur a productivity revolution for smaller businesses and increase the number of inbound tourists to 40 million a year. He will also aim to make Japan more resistant to large-scale natural disasters.

Furthermore, Abe will explain the government's position to resolve the issue of the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea and Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, and pledge to proactively carry out diplomacy with Japan's neighbors including Russia and China. He is also poised to promote the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.

As to constitutional revision, Abe will state in his campaign pledge that the LDP as a whole will make efforts to submit its constitutional revision proposal to the next Diet session so that it can initiate such amendments at an early date. Abe has proposed a four-point constitutional revision plan including the stipulation of the existence of the Self-Defense Forces and making education free of charge.

At an LDP board meeting on Aug. 28, Prime Minister Abe said, "I affirmed my candidacy in the party presidential election when I was in Kagoshima. I'd like to have bold debate appropriate for a governing party.

Five intraparty factions and other LDP legislators supporting Abe's bid for a third consecutive term as LDP leader have decided to hold a rally on Sept. 3 at a Tokyo hotel and establish a joint election campaign office for the prime minister.

(Japanese original by Akira Murao, Political News Department)

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