PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
Party leaders appeal to voters on last weekend before election
Monday 24th August, 06:45 AM JST
Leaders of political parties gave stump speeches in cities across Japan on Sunday to attract voters’ support on the last weekend before the Aug 30 general election in which the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan is widely forecast to win.
Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party is apparently on the verge of falling out of power, acknowledged growing social disparities during a stump speech but touted his past achievements, while DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama called for government change and warned against optimism that the House of Representatives election will be an easy victory for the party.
‘‘Everyone’s living has been greatly affected by the competitive principles based on market mechanisms that the LDP introduced. We must sincerely reflect on it and overhaul our policies,’’ Aso said in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture.
But he also said the LDP’s measures to stimulate the Japanese economy have proved right as the gross national product increased for the first time in 15 months in the period between April and June, and he told voters, ‘‘The LDP has policies and the DPJ does not.’’
Hatoyama, meanwhile, criticized the administration under Aso while campaigning at a shopping arcade in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward.
‘‘We don’t have enough doctors, nurses or nursing-care helpers. A bureaucrat-dependent government that cut social security and prioritized large-scale construction projects made it harder for people to make a living,’’ said Hatoyama.
Mentioning news reports saying the party could secure more than 300 seats in the lower house, Hatoyama said, ‘‘We cannot put our guard down until the very end.’’
Akihiro Ota, leader of the LDP’s junior coalition partner New Komeito party, said while campaigning in Tokyo’s Kita Ward that the election has become ‘‘a difficult race’’ but the people need the party to put the economy back on the right track.
Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii said in Nagoya that the ruling coalition is headed for an end and that he ‘‘will make specific demands once a DPJ government is established.’’
Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the minor opposition Social Democratic Party, said in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, that the country needs a party that sticks to its peace policies and supports working people.
The People’s New Party leader Tamisuke Watanuki in Fukui Prefecture also criticized the LDP-led government, saying the Cabinet under former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ‘‘tricked the people into believing that postal privatization will create a wonderful society. We will prove their fraud.’’
Speaking in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe said his party is the only one that ‘‘knows how to fight Kasumigaseki,’’ an area often referred to as the symbol of bureaucracy.
Hideo Watanabe who heads the Japan Renaissance Party criticized the DPJ, saying its economic policies are ‘‘dole-out policies’’ during a speech in Fukushima Prefecture, while New Party Nippon leader Yasuo Tanaka said in Tokyo’s Shibuya district that even if the DPJ ‘‘becomes a giant,’’ its reforms will be undermined by bureaucrats unless it has ‘‘a spice,’’ implying his party.