TOKYO (AP) — Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday that he will spearhead economic recovery and strengthen Japan’s military if his party regains control in elections next month.
“We will recover Japan,” Abe said as he issued his campaign platform at a news conference at his party headquarters in Tokyo. “We will rebuild the economy.”
Abe promised to achieve 3 percent nominal economic growth through intensive reform programs over the next five years. He also set a 2 percent inflation target, promising to use bold monetary policy to get the country out of deflation.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of parliament Friday, paving the way for elections. His ruling party is expected to give way to a weak coalition government divided over how to tackle Japan’s myriad problems.
The biggest concerns are reviving a stagnant economy, rebuilding after the crippling March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and determining Japan’s energy policy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
As head of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which is leading in opinion polls, Abe is likely to replace Noda following the Dec. 16 elections.
Abe said he will take new economic measures to fight deflation and correct the strong yen, which is hurting Japanese manufacturers and exporters.
He said he will compile a large-scale budget that would allow flexible and continuous measures to would create more jobs, promote investment and make Japanese manufacturers more globally competitive. Abe proposed strengthening political influence over Japan’s central bank, possibly by revising a law that guarantees the bank’s independence.
The hawkish Abe also introduced a plan to set up a national security council at the prime minister’s office to beef up Japan’s defense and security amid an escalating territorial spat with China over some islands in the East China Sea. He said the LDP will strengthen the coast guard around the disputed islands that Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu.
Abe, a staunch supporter of the Japan-U.S. security alliance, renewed his call for a revision to Japan’s war-renouncing constitution to allow Japanese troops to defend American troops in case of foreign attacks on Japan.
He claimed he would fix a Japan-U.S. alliance that Noda damaged and would strengthen Japan’s diplomacy “to protect the people’s lives, territory and the beautiful sea.”
Abe resigned as prime minister in 2007 after a year in office due to a stomach ailment that he says is no longer an issue.
Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan defeated the LDP three years ago. It has lost support largely because of its handling of the nuclear crisis and its doubling of the sales tax.
Polls indicate the LDP will win the most seats but will have to form a coalition to govern. Official campaigning starts Dec. 4.
Polls show nearly half the voters are undecided and emerging “third force” groups, including one led by outspoken nationalist former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, are expected to affect post-election groupings.
If Noda’s centrist party loses, the economically sputtering country will get its seventh prime minister in six and a half years.
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