Heads of Japan major parties to hold debate ahead of key election

Focus on who can best respond to an expected next wave of COVID-19 infections

  
Leaders of Japan's main political parties the Social Democratic Party head Mizuho Fukushima, the Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki, the Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano, Japan’s Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party President Fumio Kishida, Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, The Japan Restoration Party, also known as the Japan Restoration Association, leader Ichiro Matsui, Reiwa Shinsengumi party leader Taro Yamamoto and leader of the party fighting against NHK in the trial for violating Article 72 of the Attorney Act Takashi Tachibana attend a debate session ahead of October 31, 2021 lower house election, at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan October 18 , 2021.

Leaders of Japan's main political parties the Social Democratic Party head Mizuho Fukushima, the Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki, the Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano, Japan’s Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party President Fumio Kishida, Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, The Japan Restoration Party, also known as the Japan Restoration Association, leader Ichiro Matsui, Reiwa Shinsengumi party leader Taro Yamamoto and leader of the party fighting against NHK in the trial for violating Article 72 of the Attorney Act Takashi Tachibana attend a debate session ahead of October 31, 2021 lower house election, at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan October 18 , 2021.

REUTERS/Issei Kato/Pool

TOKYO - The heads of Japan's major parties will hold a public debate on Monday likely to focus on who can best respond to an expected next wave of COVID-19 infections and fix the pandemic-hit economy, two weeks ahead of the national election.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who as the new leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) took over the premiership earlier this month, has called the general election for members of the powerful lower house Oct. 31.

Besides the coronavirus response, Japan's defence posture is one of the issues in focus, as China expands its military rapidly and North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear and missile programmes.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, the leader of the Komeito party - the junior partner in Japan's ruling coalition - on Friday raised doubt over the LDP's policy of doubling defence spending, saying the public would not support such an increase when so many areas of social welfare need resources.

On minority rights and women's empowerment, Japan's largest opposition, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), stands for rights including supporting same-sex marriage and different surnames for couples, marking out differences with the LDP.

Women accounted for 18.3% of CDPJ candidates as of Oct. 17, compared with 9.7% for the LDP, according to the Asahi newspaper.

The debate among nine party leaders is scheduled to start 1:00 p.m. (0400 GMT).

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Lincoln Feast.) ((kiyoshi.takenaka@thomsonreuters.com; +81 3 4563 2788;))


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