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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008

Ozawa reveals DPJ policy pledges, admonishes Aso

Opposition party president vows to restructure state's financial management

Staff writer

Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa kicked off the Diet debate Wednesday by concentrating on his party's policy pledges and lambasted Prime Minister Taro Aso for directing questions to the DPJ in his policy speech earlier in the week.

"Prime Minister Aso's policy speech had neither principles, vision nor policies. The only specific thing was a defamatory stance toward the DPJ," Ozawa said.

He said if the DPJ gains power it will allocate ¥20.5 trillion — roughly 10 percent of the current budget — to achieving its policy pledges, including a ¥26,000 monthly child-rearing allowance.

On Monday, Aso challenged the DPJ to agree to a government-proposed supplementary budget and asked the party to give its position on international issues.

Ozawa responded that it was the first time in his 39-year political career that the prime minister had asked an opposition party questions during a policy speech.

"But since they are the prime minister's questions, I would like to provide answers by giving my policy speech," Ozawa said.

The DPJ plans a wide social "safety net" encompassing such areas as the pension program, health care, child-rearing, education, employment, agriculture and small to midsize businesses, he said.

Other DPJ pledges include tax cuts of ¥2.6 trillion, toll-free highways and health care system reform.

Ozawa said the DPJ would completely restructure the government's financial management structure to reduce the waste of taxpayers money by, for instance, abolishing special budget accounts and independent administrative institutions in principle.

With the restructuring, the DPJ would be able to secure enough financial resources to realize its policy pledges, he said.

According to Ozawa, the DPJ plans to secure ¥8.4 trillion for its pledges in fiscal 2009, ¥14 trillion in fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011, and ¥20.5 trillion in fiscal 2012.

The LDP-New Komeito ruling coalition has criticized the DPJ's policy pledges, saying it has failed to explain how they would be paid for.

Ozawa criticized the LDP for focusing on diplomacy and national security centering on the alliance with the United States.

"The alliance means an equal relationship. If it is just following what the U.S. says, it is not an alliance," Ozawa said.

Aso afterward said he was disappointed Ozawa didn't answer his questions and instead gave his own policy speech.

Responding to Ozawa's criticism that the last two prime ministers from the LDP abruptly quit without holding a general election, Aso said: "I remember that President Ozawa himself admitted the DPJ lacked the ability to run the government, saying the DPJ was still not capable in many ways."

He was referring to comments Ozawa made during an abortive attempt by then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Ozawa last year to form a grand coalition of the rival parties.

Aso added that he would like a response from the DPJ on whether it agrees to pass three important bills — the supplementary budget, extending the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling activity in the Indian Ocean and the establishment of a consumer affairs agency.

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The Japan Times

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