Half of Japanese candidates cite social security as top issue in upper house election

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) – Fifty per cent of candidates running in the July 21 House of Councillors election cited social security reform as a major campaign issue in a survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

In the survey, which allowed multiple answers, ‘reform of the social security system including pensions and medical care programmes’ was cited as a top issue by most candidates, followed by ‘the economy and employment measures” at 38 per cent and “the consumption tax’ at 32 per cent. ‘Amending the Constitution’ was the fifth-most cited issue at 20 per cent.

Respondents could select up to three issues from 22 options.

The survey, which was conducted from June 10 ahead of the announcement of the election on July 4, queried 370 candidates. Valid answers were received from 318 candidates, or 86 per cent of the total.

Major differences were found between the ruling and opposition parties regarding what issues they plan to emphasise.

Among Liberal Democratic Party candidates, economy and employment measures ranked first, while social security reform ranked third.

The LDP has campaigned on the notion that economic growth spurred by Abenomics economic policies will help stabilise the social security system.

Candidates from Komeito cited reconstruction from earthquakes and disaster management measures as their top priorities, followed by economy and employment measures.

Meanwhile, candidates from opposition parties such as the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) cited social security reform as the top issue. Candidates from Nippon Ishin no Kai said providing free education was their main priority.

When asked about amending the Constitution, 99 per cent of LDP candidates and 76 per cent of Komeito candidates said the top law should be revised. All candidates from Nippon Ishin no Kai also backed the idea.

Eighty-three per cent of CDPJ candidates and all candidates from the JCP and SDP opposed amending the Constitution. Forty-four per cent of DPFP candidates opposed constitutional amendment, though 28 per cent supported such reform.