Opposition leader blasts Abe’s economic policies
Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party leader Renho Murata on Wednesday blasted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over his economic policies, in the first head-to-head match up of the two leaders since she was elected to lead her party on Sept 15.
Regarding a policy speech Abe gave on Monday at the beginning of an extraordinary Diet session, she accused the prime minister of lying to the electorate and carrying on with his “Abenomics” economic policies, despite the fact notangible headway has been made in terms of economic growth.
“Abe’s slogans are cycling around, but it’s about time for him to face up to the reality that the economy hasn’t reached a virtuous cycle at all,” said Murata, who is widely known by only her first name, Renho. “Individual consumption will start moving when we remove the anxiety about education, employment and retirement that Abenomics has left unresolved,” she said.
Murata’s party along with three other opposition parties have agreed in principle to join forces to better keep Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition in check ahead of future elections.
She slammed Abe’s decision to further delay a planned consumption tax hike before the upper house election as being deceitful and breaking pledges he had made earlier to people voting.
Delayed tax increase
The tax hike, already delayed, had been pitched to voters as a vehicle for his government to drive the economy clear from recession by generating more public revenue.
The economy, however, has essentially remained stagnant, according to the latest gross domestic product figures, with the nation still mired by deflation.
The Japanese currency continued to remain firm against its major counterparts, hampering exports and stifling production. Corporate earnings were not being converted into wage increases, which has choked private consumption.
Under Abe, the world’s third-largest economy is also buckling under an ever-increasing demographic crisis. Japan’s senior citizens are continuing to increase in numbers while the birthrate has dropped off in a social phenomenon being dubbed a “silver tsunami.”
Murata on Wednesday chastised Abe for his social welfare policies, describing them as inadequate and said the prime minister needs to do more to help those who are struggling in society.
In particular, she told Abe he needed to do more for both the young and the elderly in the society, as two of its most vulnerable components, and said his policies thus far had been “insufficient.”
Opposition Democratic Party leader Renho Murata (center), talks with other lawmakers in the upper house before the start of the new parliament session in Tokyo on Monday. KIM KYUNG-HOON / REUTERS