Japan's MPs gear up for key vote debate

AAPReuters
Natsuo Yamaguchi has cast doubt over the LDP's policy of doubling Japan's defence spending.
Camera IconNatsuo Yamaguchi has cast doubt over the LDP's policy of doubling Japan's defence spending. Credit: AP

The heads of Japan's major parties are set for a public debate likely to focus on who can best respond to an expected next wave of COVID-19 infections and fix the pandemic-hit economy, two weeks ahead of the national election.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who as the new leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) took over the premiership earlier this month, has named October 31 as the date for a general election for members of the powerful lower house.

Besides the coronavirus response, Japan's defence is one of the issues in focus, as China expands its military rapidly and North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear and missile programs.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, the leader of the Komeito party - the junior partner in Japan's ruling coalition - on Friday raised doubt over the LDP's policy of doubling defence spending, saying the public would not support such an increase when so many areas of social welfare need resources.

On minority rights and women's empowerment, the largest opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), stands for rights including supporting same-sex marriage and different surnames for couples, marking out differences with the LDP.

Women accounted for 18.3 per cent of CDPJ candidates as of October 17, compared with 9.7 per cent for the LDP, according to the Asahi newspaper.

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