Campaign For Ldp Leadership Shifts Into Top Gear

Campaign for LDP leadership shifts into top gear

Japan's Prime Minister and a veteran lawmaker have made their pitches on how they would lead Japan's main ruling party.

They're in a one-on-one race for Liberal Democratic Party leadership, which essentially decides who governs the country.

The 2 candidates took to the podium to speak to lawmakers. The race officially kicked off last Friday, but the LDP suspended public campaigning to deal with the earthquake in Hokkaido.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "I want to make sure people's basic necessities are guaranteed when a disaster hits. In order to do that, I will conduct a nationwide investigation as soon as possible and strengthen resiliency. Within 3 years, I will take emergency measures to prepare for disasters, to lessen their impact and strengthen the country's resilience to make Japan strong and safe."

Abe said, "This will be my last bid for leadership. I've tried my best, but at the same time, I've received much criticism. I will look back at myself and change whatever is needed and humbly and carefully administer the government."

Abe also reiterated his strong desire to amend the Constitution to clearly define the existence of the Self-Defense Forces.

Abe said, "The time has come to tackle Constitutional amendment. I believe it is our duty as politicians today to create an environment where all Self-Defense Forces personnel can proudly fulfill their duties. Let's write about 'protecting Japan's peace and independence' and the term 'Self-Defense Forces' into the Constitution to live up to our responsibility."

Meanwhile, former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba stressed his aim of speeding up the revitalization of local communities.

Ishiba said, "What I want to work on is economic recovery, and the core of that is regional revitalization. We need to bring back high employment and income to people in the countryside. Firms may be making profit but that doesn't always filter into individual incomes. I believe small and medium-sized businesses and agricultural and fishery fields have the most potential, and we should realize that as much as possible."

Ishiba also touched on the issue of amending the Constitution. One of the issues he's prioritizing is electoral systems.

Ishiba said, "I'm going to start with what needs to be done as soon as possible. Reforming electoral zoning and stipulating measures the government should take in emergencies."

Ishiba also said, "The LDP is a party for the people. Discussions should be had with various organizations. The Diet must be run sincerely and with fairness, and the government must function modestly. The LDP will go back to those basics. There is nothing to fear. I will only fear the Japanese people as I fight this battle."

Each candidate is vying to get a majority of the 810 votes up for grabs. Ballots will be counted and the winner will be announced on September 20th.