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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 13:14 GMT
Japan election voices: The pensioner
Shotaro Kodama
Mr Kodama is against Japan sending troops to Iraq
Ahead of Sunday's elections in Japan, BBC News Online has been speaking to a range of Japanese voters about the issues concerning them most.

Shotaro Kodama, a 73-year-old retired mechanical engineering professor, said he was not planning to vote for either the LDP or the main opposition, the Democratic Party.

He said this was because they support the dispatch of Japanese troops to Iraq to assist in post-war reconstruction.

Having experienced the effects of World War II 50 years ago, "I don't want to have any war in the world," he said.

It's not the time for fighting each other

"They said it's not an army it's a police force, then they said a defence army... Politicians say they won't fight, but when they get there they will have to fight back (in self-defence), so it is war, I think."

"I'm ready to pay money to rebuild Iraq, but we are not sending our army. Sending our army is fighting against others," he added.

He said that the leaders of both parties also didn't denounce war strongly enough, and yet this sentiment was enshrined in Japan's constitution.

In fact, the LDP has pledged to present a plan to revise the constitution, including changes to Article nine, which forbids Japan from waging war, in 2005.

The Democratic Party has also said it will produce revision guidelines by the end of 2004.

Mr Kodama said the other pressing issue, for him, was rising crime levels, which have received widespread coverage recently in the national media.

Japan's national police agency recorded 2.85 million crimes last year, the highest number reported since the end of WWII.

Fuchu prison in Tokyo
Crime in Japan is at a post-war all-time high

"It's quite different now," he said. "We have put two locks on the door and also I have asked the owner of our apartment block to install close circuit TV in the lift. There's been some mugging in lifts in other apartments."

He said that even the nature of burglary was changing.

"In our apartment on the ground floor, someone smashed the glass, and in two or three minutes they stole wrist watches. That kind of robbery has never been experienced in Japan before."

Mr Kodama said there has always been stealing, but somehow it was more artfully done.

"This is very dangerous and noisy," he said.

Mr Kodama blamed this new crime wave on the change among Japan's younger generation.

"The younger people's way of thinking is very different from our own way. They are very impatient and irritable."

And he blamed this on poor education, rather than the oft-cited culprit - the downturn in Japan's economy over the last decade.

"It's family education I'm afraid. [Parents] haven't any spare time to care for their children."

Japan's political parties have made fighting crime an election issue, but he said politicians did not seem concerned with what he saw as the underlying problem of education.

"I'm afraid (the politicians) aren't talking about that. They're talking about the pension system, taxation, and building highways. I think changing education is very important."

But he said that, despite the bad press Japan's youth has been receiving, older did not necessarily mean better.

He said that he agreed with Mr Koizumi's push for a fresher image for Japan's politicians - the leader has recently asked two octogenarian MPs not to stand again in the election.

He said even Mr Koizumi was "a little old" to lead, at the relatively sprightly age - for Japanese politics - of 61.

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