Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday he is resolved to end the divided Diet and secure political stability in Japan through the upcoming upper house election, while the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan warned his economic policy could destroy people's lives.
Joining a debate with opposition leaders ahead of the July 21 House of Councillors election, Abe, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party, said, "I will address the twisted relations between the two chambers of parliament by winning the upper house election, and will secure stability in politics."
While the LDP-led coalition holds an overwhelming majority in the powerful House of Representatives, opposition parties control the upper house, making it difficult for the ruling camp to press its legislative agenda through parliament.
Half the 242 seats in the upper house, or 121, come up for grabs every three years. The LDP and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito party, need to obtain a total of 63 seats in the election to secure a simple majority, as they have 59 seats that will not be contested this time.
Opposition parties are struggling to erode relatively high public support for Abe's administration launched in December, when the LDP returned to power by beating the DPJ in a generation election.
In the debate, which came a day before the official campaign period for the latest election begins, DPJ leader Banri Keida attacked Abe's economic policy, dubbed "Abenomics," that is aimed at replacing nearly two decades of deflation with mild inflation as one "that could destroy lives."
"Prices are increasing as a side effect of the economic policy pursued by the Abe administration," Kaieda said, pledging that the DPJ would seek to stop the policy.
The debate was also joined by the heads of New Komeito, Your Party, People's Life Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Green Wind party, and the Japan Restoration Party.
Japan Restoration Party co-leader Toru Hashimoto, whose recent remarks about Japan's wartime military brothels sparked fierce criticism in Asia and the United States, tried to enhance his reformist image.
While underscoring the need for deregulation measures in revitalizing the Japanese economy, Hashimoto, who doubles as Osaka mayor, said he will "implement truly necessary reforms without fear of criticism."