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Japan opposition party unveils election manifesto

Tokyo : The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) unveiled on Monday its manifesto for the upcoming general elections, with focus being on challenging “Abenomics” and retracting a cabinet bill granting the right to collective self-defense.

The political platform criticised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies, dubbed “Abenomics”, saying it has worsened Japanese people’s living conditions and citing recent data on Japan’s gross domestic product that suggests the world’s third largest economy has slipped into recession, Xinhua reported.

The election pledge said that a side-effect of “Abenomics”, the fast retreating yen, has weighed real wages down for 15 months in a row and the policy has enlarged gaps between the rich and the poor.

“If ‘Abenomics’ continues as it is now, a range of people from workers, students to pensioners, as well as small and medium-sized companies will suffer more,” said DPJ leader Banri Kaieda. “We have to change this trend,” he said at a press conference Monday.

To address the economic woes here, the DPJ vowed in the manifesto to revive “wealthy middle class” and to consider introducing multiple rates for the consumption tax and a system of tax breaks combined with cash allowances for low-income people, media reports cited the pledge as stating.

It also called for a flexible monetary policy instead of the current aggressive one by Abe and a better future-oriented growth strategy.

The DPJ’s platform said the cabinet bill that gave the green light to the Self-Defence Forces to exercise the right to collective self-defence violates the country’s pacifism and the “runaway cabinet” that passes unpopular and controversial bills despite public opinion should be corrected.

The opposition party also called for a society without nuclear power in the 2030s.

Abe dissolved Japan’s lower house of parliament Friday in a move to delay a second sales tax hike planned in October 2015 and called a snap election Dec 14.

The DPJ was ousted by Abe-led Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from power in the last general elections in December, 2012, putting an end to DPJ’s three-year rule.

According to the latest poll, the DPJ only got about 11 percent of support, ranking second after the LDP, which gained about 37 percent of support.

The release of DPJ’s election manifesto also aims to woo unaffiliated voters by saying the party stands by the viewpoint of the “ordinary citizen” so as to curb the LDP from securing the majority in the lower house election.

Abe had said he would step down if the LDP and its partner, the Komeito Party, could not win the poll.