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80% of Japan election candidates want 'Abenomics' policy reviewed: survey

The National Diet building is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- A total of 80% of candidates in the July 10 House of Councillors election who responded to a recent Mainichi Shimbun survey called for a "correction" or "review" of the "Abenomics" economic policy mix promoted by the Japanese government since under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    The Mainichi sent out questionnaires on key policy measures to all 545 candidates in the upcoming election, and had received responses from 526 of them by noon of July 4. In regard to 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 reviewing or correcting it, suggesting that rising prices and widening economic gaps are apparently raising awareness among many candidates about the adverse effects of Abenomics.

    In the survey, candidates were asked to choose from three options regarding Abenomics: "the policy should be continued for the time being," "it can be valued but should be corrected," and "it cannot be valued and should be reviewed." The most common response was the call for reviewing the policy at 47%, followed by the urge for correcting it at 34% and a call for continuing the policy at 15%.

    Among opposition candidates, 94% of respondents running on the ticket of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) called for a review of Abenomics, while all respondents fielded by the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) answered the same.

    Among other opposition parties, 96% of candidates running from the conservative opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party, JIP) called for correcting Abenomics, followed by candidates of the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) at 59% and the NHK Party at 45%.

    Even among minor coalition partner Komeito's candidates, 75% of respondents sought "correction" of Abenomics. As for the ruling LDP, 57% answered that Abenomics should be continued, forming the largest group, while 41% called for correcting the policy.

    Amid the soaring prices worldwide, the United States and European countries have moved to raise interest rates, resulting in the widening interest gap between Japan, where the massive monetary easing policy continues under Abenomics, and Western countries, driving down the yen's value to around 135 yen per dollar.

    With Japanese businesses' production bases yet to fully return home, 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 added jobs were nonregular ones. Amid these circumstances, countermeasures against the price surges and widening economic gaps have become one of the focal points of contention in the upper house election.

    With regard to Japan's consumption tax, 71% of candidates responding to the survey called for lowering the rate, far above the 24% who said it should be maintained and the 1% favoring a sales tax hike. Most of the opposition candidates called for cutting the consumption tax, while 85% of LDP candidates and all Komeito candidates want the tax rate maintained.

    In regard to boosting taxes on the affluent population, 57% supported the idea while 25% were opposed. Among opposition parties, all of the candidates of the JCP, Reiwa Shinsengumi and the SDP were supportive of the plan, followed by the CDP at 94% and DPFP at 82%. Komeito also saw 50% of its candidates favoring the move. The LDP was divided with 34% in favor and 35% against, as was the NHK Party with 47% nodding and 45% opposed. Nearly 80% of JIP respondents either didn't answer or gave responses that were not listed among the options.

    When asked if financial burdens on the public should be increased to maintain the social security system or if benefit levels should be lowered, 32% of candidates chose the latter to curb people's burdens, while 23% opted for the former. The remaining 45% either didn't answer or gave responses outside the options.

    Regarding Prime Minister Kishida's "new capitalism" economic doctrine, 67% of candidates said they didn't appreciate it, while a mere 18% said they did. Thirteen percent of respondents said they were not sure. Most of the opposition candidates had no appreciation of the policy, while 86% and 83% of LDP and Komeito candidates, respectively, were appreciative of the plan. Even among ruling party candidates, 11% of LDP and 13% of Komeito candidates said they were "not sure."

    Even though Kishida has expressed his eagerness to rectify the economic gap, he has also mapped out a plan for doubling asset-based incomes, which could be construed as giving preferential treatment to the wealthy. This contradiction has apparently led some ruling party candidates to grow skeptical about the prime minister's true intentions.

    (Japanese original by Shiho Fujibuchi and Tsumuki Nakamura, Political News Department)

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