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Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012
Platform reflects Abe's conservative philosophy
LDP vows pact with BOJ for 2% inflation
By AYAKO MIE
The Liberal Democratic Party unveiled on Wednesday its policy promises for the Lower House election, pledging to steer the economy out of a decade of deflation by reaching an accord with the Bank of Japan to set an inflation target of 2 percent per year.
If it comes out on top in the Dec. 16 race, the largest opposition force pledged to keep pushing for further credit easing "with an eye to" possible revision of the Bank of Japan Law to "enhance collaboration" between the government and the central bank, the platform states.
The party didn't elaborate further. LDP chief Shinzo Abe has been criticized for remarks allegedly threatening the BOJ's independence.
"Climbing out of deflation alone won't solve all of the problems (confronting Japan.) But without overcoming deflation, we can't achieve nominal economic growth" Abe told reporters.
The LDP's platform reflects many of the policies long advocated by the hawkish Abe. These include allowing Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense and making it easier to change the pacifist Constitution.
Constitutional revisions currently require approval by two-thirds of lawmakers in each Diet chamber and then are put to the public in a national referendum. The LDP pledged to ease this requirement to a simple majority in both chambers before being put to the nation, a promise likely to spark fiery debates among Diet members after the election.
The LDP is currently running ahead in media polls, meaning the party could return to power for the first time since suffering a defeat in 2009 to the Democratic Party of Japan.
The LDP is also promising to set up a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, a decision-making body on national security and foreign affairs in the White House, to strengthen the prime minister's sway and enable the government to make speedier decisions.
The party said it will remain opposed to Japan's participation in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership talks as long as the free-trade pact aims to eliminate all tariffs.
On nuclear policy, the LDP said it will decide within three years whether to resume the operation of all reactors.
In what Abe called a departure from previous LDP platforms, the party aims to set up a headquarters within the Cabinet Office tasked with reinvigorating the economy.
Abe's recent remarks urging the BOJ to introduce "unlimited easing policy" has been criticized by BOJ Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa, who said the bank must remain independent of the government.
Abe's conservative bent is prominently reflected in the platform's security and defense policies, which will raise alarm bells in China and South Korea.
"The government has already purchased the (Senkaku) islands, and it would be strange for us to change that," LDP policy chief Akira Amari said.
To strengthen Japan's effective control of the islets, which are also claimed by China, the LDP said it would deploy permanent staff there and enhance the operational capabilities of the Japan Coast Guard and the Self-Defense Forces.
Information from Kyodo added