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Friday, Oct. 5, 2007

Opposition takes fight to Upper House

Staff writer

Azuma Koshiishi, chairman of the Democratic Party of Japan's caucus in the Upper House, threatened Thursday to submit a censure motion against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and warned him against fighting the opposition camp in the chamber out of spite.

News photo
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda confer during Thursday's Upper House plenary session. KYODO PHOTO

"(The opposition parties) can submit a censure motion against the prime minister, and what is more, we can approve it" in the Upper House, Koshiishi said.

He also accused Fukuda of cowardice by pointing out that he hadn't dared run in last year's Liberal Democratic Party presidential election against Shinzo Abe for fear of losing, as Abe was very popular at that time and assured of winning the race. After Abe's abrupt resignation in September, most of the LDP factions moved quickly to support Fukuda this time round.

"Is your political philosophy 'don't fight in battles you can't win?' " Koshiishi asked.

Koshiishi said the ruling bloc should not reject bills approved by the Upper House, where the opposition parties hold a majority.

The LDP-New Komeito ruling coalition could easily reject the opposition's bills in the Lower House, where it holds a large majority.

"If the Lower House (rejects) bills (approved by the Upper House), that is an outrageous act, ignoring public opinion, and absolutely inexcusable," Koshiishi said.

At the same time, however, Koshiishi stressed that the DPJ does not intend to reject every law submitted by the ruling coalition.

"Of course, we will oppose legislation that is not good for the public," Koshiishi said. "But if (a bill) benefits the public, we will approve it. (The DPJ) will not take an irresponsible attitude by just objecting to everything that the government does."

Fukuda said the ruling bloc shares this attitude.

"I would like to clearly state that I have no intention of opposing (bills submitted by the opposition parties) for the sake of opposing them," Fukuda said.

As for whether the Maritime Self-Defense Force should continue refueling activities in the Indian Ocean as part of a U.S.-led mission, Koshiishi slammed the government's idea of not requiring Diet approval to dispatch the MSDF under a new antiterrorism bill.

"It is outrageous to delete the clause (in the new bill) to require approval of the Diet (to dispatch the MSDF) — which is necessary now (under the current law) — and goes against the laws of civilian control," Koshiishi said.

The ruling coalition will present the outline of the new bill to the opposition Friday. The ruling bloc plans to limit its life span to two years to quell concerns that it could threaten civilian control.

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The Japan Times

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