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Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008
Prefectural lawmakers rally in praise of gas taxes
About 450 prefectural assembly members from the ruling and opposition parties staged a rally Wednesday in Tokyo to call on policymakers to maintain the current tax rates on gasoline, roads and motor vehicle tonnage.
Assembly members from 44 prefectures, as well as Diet members from the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito, the Democratic Party of Japan and Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), crowded the Kensei Kaikan auditorium near the Diet in Nagata-cho to campaign for continuing the extended tax rates, which were imposed in the '70s and are due to expire at the end of March.
"Those who want to abolish the tax rates don't understand the heavy traffic of the cities and the inadequate road network system of rural areas," the assembly members said in a statement adopted at the rally.
A guest speaker at the assembly, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, accused the DPJ, which is pushing to abolish the tax hikes, of pandering to the public to win over taxpayers.
"In this era of motorization, the nation will be paralyzed if roads are not built," Ishihara said. "We need to stop (the DPJ) with everything we've got."
Several Diet lawmakers and prefectural assembly members from the DPJ were in attendance.
One, Upper House lawmaker Yasuhiro Oe, received loud applause for criticizing his own party in his speech.
"If the DPJ antagonizes the people with this issue, it is not a party that places priority on the general public," he said.
Responding to a question from LDP Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki about whether the DPJ has officially decided to block the tax-reform bill, Oe said the party needed more time to deliberate.