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Friday, June 16, 2000
Communists set to sacrifice policies in quest for change
By YOKO HANI
The Japanese Communist Party will ask the people to help it revamp a political setup that has been completely warped by the Liberal Democratic Party's rule, according to JCP leader Tetsuzo Fuwa.
"The major issue in this election is how to reform the currently stagnant system, including politics and economics, created under LDP rule," said Fuwa, who leads the nation's second-largest opposition party.
In an interview with The Japan Times, Fuwa said that, in concrete terms, the national budget should go more toward social security than public works, and this will be the JCP's key stand for the June 25 Lower House election.
"We want to change the priority order for spending people's tax money," Fuwa said. "Social security should come on top to meet the people's needs."
The JCP also claims that true economic recovery cannot be achieved unless politicians take the initiative to carry out drastic reform of the employment and other social systems. The JCP is pledging to halve public works expenditures and spend the surplus on improving social welfare, such as nursing houses for elderly, should it manage to head the government.
Although the ruling bloc — the LDP, New Komeito and New Conservative Party — boast the "political stability" their alliance brings in carrying out government policies for the public, Fuwa is highly critical.
"They formed the coalition merely to hold a majority (in both chambers of the Diet)," he said, recalling New Komeito's frequent criticisms, before it joined the ruling camp, of the LDP's policies. The government has no vision about how to lead this country, he said.
The JCP hopes to appeal to all kinds of voters — not only its supporters and those with no allegiance, but people who support other parties as well.
Fuwa said the JCP has not set a target number of seats to win in the election but will deem itself victorious if it can gain more than the 26 it currently holds.
Depending on the outcome of the election, the JCP would consider taking part in an alliance of the current opposition forces if their numbers are great enough to replace the LDP-led government, he said.
"It is not an easy scenario to picture, of course, but I still think it is possible that the ruling coalition will fail to get a simple majority," Fuwa said.
The support rate for Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's Cabinet has declined drastically since his controversial remark that Japan is "a divine nation centering on the Emperor," Fuwa said, noting that voters are now questioning Mori's qualifications to serve at the nation's helm.
He also points to the recent trend in which the number of organized LDP supporters has begun to decrease. The ruling coalition's goal of winning 254 of the 480 seats up for grabs, compared with the 336 they currently hold in the 500-seat lower chamber, indicates those parties do not have very positive prospects in the poll.
Fuwa said that if the combined number of seats gained by the opposition parties overwhelms that of the ruling coalition, then the opposition parties will have "a responsibility to consider the joint creation of an alternative government."
The JCP is prepared to talk with other opposition parties on forming an alliance, even if it means setting aside its policy goal of scrapping the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
"We can instead seek the promotion of our peace-oriented diplomatic policy in the alliance," Fuwa maintained. "If we can secure the realization of some policies, we will go for such an alliance, even if we have to withhold some other policies.
"We, as a party, surely have our own policy goals. But we are flexible enough to cope with a situation in which opposition parties gain the majority," he said.