The Democratic Party of Japan released a draft of its election manifesto that strengthens its anti-nuclear stance but makes little mention of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s push for Japan’s participation in free trade talks.

The party’s draft manifesto, released on Nov. 16, repeated the DPJ’s call for abolishing all of Japan’s nuclear power plants by the end of the 2030s. It also called for a review from scratch of the recycling program of spent nuclear fuel—a program considered a national policy.

Unveiled during an unofficial policy meeting of all DPJ lawmakers, the draft did not say that Japan will take part in talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Noda previously said it was necessary for the manifesto to highlight his intentions regarding the TPP. He also said the TPP would be a key point in the campaign for the Dec. 16 Lower House election to differentiate the DPJ from the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party.

But the draft failed to describe Noda’s ideas on the TPP, apparently due to staunch opposition from DPJ lawmakers who fear the trade pact would hurt the Japanese agriculture sector.

Instead, the draft read that Japan “will advance (talks for) the TPP simultaneously” with those for a free trade agreement among Japan, China and South Korea.

Concerning Diet reform, the DPJ repeated its promise made in the 2009 Lower House election and the 2010 Upper House election to reduce the number of Diet seats by about 80 in the Lower House and by 40 in the Upper House.

As for social security systems, the party again called for the unification of public pension programs, establishment of a minimum pension benefit system and the abolition of the medical insurance program for people 75 or older. Those reforms were also described in the manifesto for the 2009 Lower House election, but have yet to be realized.

“The DPJ will make efforts to realize the party’s proposals through discussions at the national council,” the draft said, referring to the panel to be set up by the government.

The DPJ never mentioned a consumption tax increase in its 2009 manifesto. But after Noda became prime minister, his government, with the cooperation of the LDP and New Komeito, passed bills to double the tax rate to 10 percent by 2015.

“We will use all of (the money from) the consumption tax as financial resources for social security programs,” the draft said. “At the same time, we will implement measures for low-income earners (who could be seriously affected by the tax increase).”

DPJ lawmakers plan to discuss the draft again next week and finalize the manifesto by the end of the month.

November 17, 2012

Source: Asahi Shimbun