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Suga reveals policies for LDP leadership election to replace outgoing Japan PM Abe

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is seen speaking in a Mainichi Shimbun interview about the upcoming LDP leadership election, at the House of Representatives Second Members' Office Building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Sept. 4, 2020. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama)

TOKYO -- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, one of three candidates for the upcoming leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that will effectively select Japan's next prime minister, revealed some of his policy pledges on Sept. 4 in a Mainichi Shimbun interview at the National Diet.

    The top government spokesman said that lowering consumption tax "is not an option." Regarding the annual finances of around 2 trillion yen (about $18.82 billion) accumulated following the sales tax hike from 8% to 10% in October 2019, Suga commented, "The money is necessary for early childhood education and young people, and (the tax rate) should not be lowered."

    On the topic of an early dissolution of the House of Representatives for a snap election, Suga emphasized that if he were to become prime minister, it "should not happen unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained." He added, "Politics is like a living creature, but fundamentally the most important thing is to take measures against the coronavirus, and carry out policies to protect employment and businesses now." Suga also expressed enthusiasm for constitutional revision, saying, "Getting the four points (in the LDP's draft for constitutional amendment) passed in the Diet is our greatest responsibility."

    On the selection of Cabinet and senior LDP posts, Suga said, "Choosing individuals that befit each position shall be done as a matter of course." He stressed there would be "absolutely no" special consideration paid to factions or authority figures within the LDP, adding, "I myself do not belong to any faction." Although there have been concerns over Suga's lack of diplomacy experience, he stated, "I have been involved in all our significant policies (as the chief cabinet secretary), and I'm not worried. The main focus will be on Japan-U.S. relations."

    Meanwhile, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, who has also entered the LDP leadership race, held a press conference in the Diet building on Sept. 4 to announce his policy package, "Strategy for the creation of Japan in the new Reiwa era." His pledges include mitigating the overconcentration of Japan's population and industry in the capital, realizing a move of some 3 million people to regional areas, and establishing a ministry for disaster prevention.

    "I wish to make a country where each and every person has a place where they belong, and which can make them feel happy," Ishiba said.

    (Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama and Masahiro Tateno, Political News Department)

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