Factbox: Key policies of Japan's PM-to-be Fukuda | world | Hindustan Times
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Factbox: Key policies of Japan's PM-to-be Fukuda

world Updated: Sep 23, 2007 17:35 IST

Reuters
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Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party chose Yasuo Fukuda, who seeks warmer ties with Asian neighbours, to succeed Shinzo Abe as prime minister in an effort to revive party fortunes and fill a political vacuum.

Fukuda, a 71-year-old former chief cabinet secretary, is assured of becoming the next prime minister, given the ruling coalition's overwhelming majority in Parliament's lower house.

Here are positions on some key issues held by Fukuda.

Foreign policy

Fukuda views the security alliance with the United States as the basis of foreign policy, but he is less US-centric than Abe and advocates strengthening ties with Asian neighbors.

He stresses the need to extend a Japanese naval mission in the Indian Ocean to support a US-led operation in Afghanistan, and intends to submit to the Parliament a fresh bill to allow for extending the Japanese naval activities.

<b1>But opposition parties, who control Japan's upper house of Parliament, oppose extending the mission beyond a current deadline of November 1.

North Korea

Fukuda has signaled a softer approach towards dealing with Pyongyang, stressing the need for negotiations to resolve the issue of abductions of Japanese by North Korea.

Yasukuni war shrine

Fukuda has said he would not pay his respects at Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine for the war dead, which is seen by many in Asia as a symbol of past militarism.

He favours building a secular national war memorial, although he said on Friday that he felt the time was not yet right.

Economic policy

Fukuda has pledged to pursue structural reform to improve Japan's competitiveness but also wants to address the problems of those who have suffered from the side effects of past reforms, including a widening rural-urban economic gap.

Fukuda said on Sunday it was impossible to revert to pork-barrel politics under current fiscal conditions but at the same time he could not neglect rural areas.

Fiscal policy

Fukuda voices the need to consider increasing consumption tax from 5 per cent, to fund future social welfare costs in rapidly ageing Japan, without when it should go up or by how much.

Fukuda told a TV Asahi show on Sunday he would flexibly deal with calls to use all sales tax revenues to finance basic pensions, saying Japan would have no choice but to raise the consumption tax to realise such a plan.

Fukuda also vowed to stick to a target of moving the government's annual budget deficit, excluding debt costs, into surplus by the 2011/12 fiscal year.

Interest rates

In April 2006, a month after the BOJ scrapped its policy of flooding the banking system with interest-free cash, Fukuda said low rates were very abnormal but added that getting Japan's public finances back in order was the priority.