Ex-minister Takaichi to run for LDP presidency

Former internal affairs minister Takaichi Sanae has officially announced her bid to run in the race to succeed Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide as president of the Liberal Democratic Party.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Takaichi said the ultimate mission of a state is to protect its people's lives and assets as well as its land, waters, airspace, resources, sovereignty and honor. She pledged to devote herself to fulfilling that mission.

She also outlined her economic policy, dubbed "Sanaenomics," of rebuilding the economy and putting it on a path to growth, and cited monetary easing and bold investment on crisis management and growth. She pledged to put more priority on flexible fiscal spending than on returning the country's primary balance to the black.

Takaichi is known for having policy beliefs close to those of former prime minister Abe Shinzo. She is the second candidate to officially announce a bid to run for the party's leadership, following former foreign minister and LDP policy chief Kishida Fumio.

On Wednesday, Kishida disclosed a plan to set up a fund of about ten trillion yen, or roughly 90 billion dollars, to build scientific and technological competitiveness. He also said he will appoint a minister in charge of economic security to boost investment in semiconductor chips and other cutting-edge technology.

Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro visited Abe on Wednesday to convey his desire to run in the race. After their 20-minute meeting, Kono declined to tell reporters what they discussed.

LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Noda Seiko, who is also a former internal affairs minister, is seeking support from senior party members to collect the 20 LDP lawmakers' endorsements required for candidacy.

The September 29 race is to be followed by a lower house election contested by the party under a new president.

On Tuesday, Edano Yukio, the head of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, revealed what policies it will tackle if it takes power in the election.

He cited a 270 billion-dollar extra budget to support people and businesses struggling with the prolonged impact of the coronavirus, and promised to set up a response team led by the chief cabinet secretary.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Democrats and three other opposition parties signed an agreement on a shared platform with citizens group Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism.

They agreed to shift from cutting medical costs to building more hospitals and public health offices.

They also agreed to raise the minimum wage, cut the consumption tax and increase the burden on the rich to correct disparities, and to pursue a carbon-neutral society without nuclear power as well as a system to allow married couples to have separate surnames.

The four opposition parties are seeking to step up their partnership in the general election.