Main issues in LDP leadership race

Contenders in the running to become the next leader of the LDP have discussed anti-coronavirus measures, economic policy -- including whether to continue with the approach labelled Abenomics -- foreign and security policy, the revitalization of regional economies and the streamlining of government agencies.

Anti-coronavirus measures

Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro has highlighted his achievements as minister in charge of the country's vaccination program. Kono has pledged to accelerate the vaccine rollout and advance preparations for booster shots. He has also vowed an all-out push to develop anti-coronavirus drugs and domestically made vaccines.

Former LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson Kishida Fumio has proposed a four-pillar strategy for tackling the pandemic. He would set up temporary hospitals to bring to zero the number of patients who have to wait to be hospitalized as well as implementing an economic stimulus program worth several hundred billion dollars to help struggling businesses stay afloat.

Former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takaichi Sanae has pledged to minimize the number of severely ill patients and fatalities, and to reduce the number of those who have to isolate themselves at home. She says the vaccine rollout would proceed more smoothly and hospitals that respond to the pandemic would be given financial support under her leadership. She also says she would promote domestic production of anti-coronavirus drugs.

LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Noda Seiko says she would bolster the medical system so that it can provide full support to people who are seriously ill. Noda also says she would provide the Japanese people with detailed information, including the views of experts.

The three candidates other than Noda say legislation that would give the central and local governments stronger powers to curb the movement of people should be considered. Kono and Takaichi have mentioned the need for lockdowns similar to those enforced overseas.

Economic policy

Kono is calling for more investment in the country's 5G network and the development of new technology aimed at achieving carbon neutrality. He says profit gained by companies through Abenomics should be converted into better wages for individual workers.

While expressing approval for Abenomics, Kishida has called for a shift away from neoliberal policies and vowed to aim for a new form of capitalism based on a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. He says he would take tax measures to encourage pay raises for employees and boost the income of healthcare and nursery workers.

Takaichi says the tenets of Abenomics should be maintained and further developed. She says she would aim to achieve a 2-percent inflation rate by way of monetary easing, flexible fiscal spending, and bold investment in crisis management and economic growth. She has suggested a temporary freeze on the government's goal of achieving a surplus in the primary balance of government finances.

Noda has shown a tendency to stay away from Abenomics. She says Japan should develop its economy through fostering diversity and vitality in every corner of society, not only among large enterprises.

Foreign and security policy

Kono says he would work to build an alliance of countries that share basic values such as a commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law. He also says he would improve the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces in new areas, such as cyberspace, outer space and electromagnetic wave technology.

Kishida says he would aim to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the Japan-US alliance. He also says he would bolster the capabilities of the Japan Coast Guard, which patrols the country's territorial waters, and give it more authority to respond to various contingencies.

Takaichi has emphasized strengthening security by bolstering the economy and national defense. She says legal revisions should be made to prevent sensitive technology from being transferred overseas. She also stresses the necessity of being able to stage a cyberattack to counter missile threats.

Noda says she would promote diplomatic relations based on common values including democracy and respect for human rights. She also says a strong defense capability is needed to allow for a quick response to so-called gray zone situations, in which an infringements of Japan's sovereignty would not be categorized as an armed attack.

Energy policy

Kono has long called for doing away with Japan's nuclear-power generation capacity. But he now says some nuclear reactors confirmed as safe should continue to operate for the time being to make up for energy shortfalls. He also insists that the full range of energy saving technology and renewable energy sources be utilized.

Kishida says it is a given that renewable energy should be utilized to the maximum extent. He also says he would support investment in new clean energy technology such as small nuclear reactors and nuclear fusion.

Takaichi backs the idea of reactivating nuclear reactors that are confirmed to be safe. She argues that a stable power supply should be ensured by developing small nuclear reactors and small fusion reactors that produce no highly radioactive waste.

Noda says it is unrealistic to think that all nuclear reactors can be taken offline as they are an important source of electricity. She also says renewable energy sources including geothermal power should be further developed.