Tokyo: Three aspirants for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) differ over the issue of how to bolster the spirit of the party deeply despondent at its crushing defeat in the August 30 elections.
The candidates in the September 28 LDP leadership election -- former finance minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, former senior vice justice minister Taro Kono and former parliamentary vice foreign minister Yasutoshi Nishimura -- presented their arguments during a panel discussion at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.
Tanigaki, 64, told the forum that LDP lawmakers "will certainly be able to reinvigorate the party if they summon up the mettle to do so through mutual help."
Tanigaki also suggested that Japan will have to raise the consumption tax rate, currently at five percent, if it is to finance its large annual government expenditures. "Japan`s fiscal house would not be maintained if it continued to hold down its tax rates to those comparable to those of the US."
Kono, 46, blasted successive prime ministers, foreign ministers and foreign ministry bureaucrats under past LDP-led administrations for falsely denying the existence of a 1960 Japan-US accord and suggested there is a need for the LDP`s middle-ranking and young lawmakers to regenerate the party.
Nishimura, 46, condemned the administration of former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi and Tanigaki, who served as his finance minister, for placing excessive emphasis on the principles of competition in running the Japanese economy and financial markets, suggesting that the ills of local economies cannot be healed if Japan continued to place importance on such principles.