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Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007
Ozawa gears party up for July race
By MASAMI ITO
The opposition parties must gain a majority in the upcoming House of Councilors election and stop the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition from widening the gap between the rich and poor, Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa told the party's annual convention Tuesday.
The ruling coalition "maintains the collusive relationship between government and bureaucrats, pushing their policies based on the logic of the strong, while ignoring the weak," Ozawa said on the last day of the two-day meeting.
"As a result, it has brought about disparities in income, employment, education and welfare."
He said that while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to make amending the Constitution the key issue in the July Upper House election, the focus should really be on reducing the disparity between rich and poor.
Politics are part of people's lives, so the DPJ's agenda will be called Seikatsu Ishin, or Restoration of Life, Ozawa said.
One of the guests at the convention was Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Department, who spoke about the importance of ties between the two nations.
He reminded the audience of Ozawa's visit to China in July amid tensions caused in part by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to Yasukuni Shrine.
"I believe that China and Japan should develop their friendship and strengthen their collaborative relationship, which will lead to benefits for the two countries and their peoples," Wang said. "And this will lead to the preservation of peace and growth of Asia and the world."
Hisaoki Kamei, secretary general of the small People's New Party, also spoke at the convention, saying his party will fight alongside the DPJ to ensure the LDP does not come out ahead in the Upper House in July.
"The general public is hoping, more than anything, for a change in the flow of politics and to re-establish a sound society," Kamei said.
"The ruling coalition has a massive majority in the Lower House already, due to the reckless election (in September 2005), and if the ruling coalition wins a majority in the Upper House election, I believe parliamentary democracy will die."
The LDP currently has 111 of the 242 seats in the House of Councilors.
It is able to control the chamber through its coalition with New Komeito, which holds 24 seats. The DPJ has the second-largest block, with 82 seats.
On Monday, DPJ local-level assembly members and former elected officials criticized party leaders for a range of issues, including their campaign strategies and a number of policies.
One former lawmaker slammed the DPJ's new TV commercial, saying it makes Ozawa appear weak, reminding viewers that Ozawa was hospitalized briefly last fall.