TOKYO (Reuters) - A new Japanese party that hopes to become a force to contend with in a December 16 general election is calling for more defense spending to protect national interests and lower corporate and income taxes to bolster the economy, domestic media said on Thursday.
The Japan Restoration Party, which came in second to the main opposition Liberal Democrats in an opinion poll published on Thursday, also wants to shrink the role of the central government while promoting free-market competition and making it easier to revise Japan's pacifist constitution.
The party's platform, to be unveiled later on Thursday, calls for breaking through a decades-old unofficial cap that limited defense spending to 1 percent of gross domestic product and boosting maritime surveillance, the Yomiuri newspaper said. The moves that could further strain ties with China, already frayed by a feud over islands in the East China Sea.
About 15 percent of voters surveyed by the Nikkei business daily plan to vote for the Japan Restoration Party, outstripping the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) 13 percent but lagging behind the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at 23 percent.
Echoing LDP pledges of aggressive monetary easing to fight deflation, the Restoration Party wants to revise a law governing the Bank of Japan law - a move critics worry would lessen central bank independence.
The party, which had dropped its anti-nuclear stance after its founder, popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto decided to merge with a tiny pro-nuclear party led by the former governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, will promise to "phase out" existing reactors by the 2030s to reduce reliance on nuclear power.
Public opposition to nuclear power in Japan has increased since the Fukushima radiation crisis last year, the world's worst in a quarter century.
(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Linda Sieg)
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