Japan's ruling party to unveil platform for October election

Japan's new prime minister Fumio Kishida delivers his first policy speech at parliament in Tokyo, Japan, on Oct 8, 2021. 
PHOTO: Reuters

TOKYO - Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is due to unveil a platform on Tuesday (Oct 12) for an Oct 31 general election, with an expected focus on tough measures to end the coronavirus pandemic and a boost for defence spending.

The party's leader, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, enjoys a reasonable level of public support a week into the job, polls show, boding well for his goal of maintaining a lower house majority for the LDP and its Komeito party coalition partner.

Kishida, a former foreign minister seen as a safe if lacklustre pair of hands, has a 49 per cent approval rating, according to poll published by state-run broadcaster NHK late on Monday.

That is lower than the approval enjoyed by some predecessors at the beginning of their tenures but support for Kishida's government was higher than the most recent ratings for that of his predecessor, Yoshihide Suga.

Suga grew deeply unpopular as he struggled to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections and stepped down last month after only a year in office.

Kishida can take more cheer from a Sankei newspaper survey published on Monday that showed 63 per cent of respondents supported his administration, with many voters saying there was no better person than him for the job of prime minister.

The poll showed a solid 45 per cent rate of voter support for the LDP, with backing for opposition parties hovering around the single digits.

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Voters in the general election will expect to see plans for decisive action to bring an end to the pandemic and rebuild a weak economy. 

Fortunately for Kishida, the coronavirus situation has improved, with the smallest number of new cases on Monday since the middle of last year.

But Kishida is taking nothing for granted and told parliament on Tuesday the government would plan for a worst-case cornavirus scenario by securing more health resources and expanding testing.

He reiterated his vision of realizing a "new capitalism" that focuses on economic growth and redistribution of wealth.

In his debut in parliament on Monday, Kishida defended his pro-nuclear energy policies.