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Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009

Watanabe set to quit LDP as Aso rejects policies

Staff writer

Former administrative reform minister Yoshimi Watanabe said Monday he will leave the ruling Liberal Democratic Party if his policy proposals are not seriously considered, including calling an early general election and cancelling a cash payout program.

News photo
Yoshimi Watanabe KYODO PHOTO

His departure from the party appeared unavoidable by the evening, when Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is also LDP President, rejected Watanabe's proposals.

"It is more important to implement policies than to call an election. I have been saying the same thing," Aso told reporters, adding that he does not plan to reconsider the cash handout.

"Whether leaving the party or not, it is up to the person. I cannot comment on that," he said.

The vocal Watanabe submitted a statement with seven proposals to Nobuteru Ishihara, who is acting secretary general of the LDP.

His proposals included canceling the ¥2 trillion cash handout policy from the second extra budget bill and revising the civil servant salary law to cut salaries by 20 percent in the next fiscal year.

"If these proposals are not considered sincerely and promptly, I will leave the LDP" based on his mission as a politician, Watanabe said.

His statement was practically a declaration that he will leave the LDP, as his proposals are unlikely to be considered, let alone implemented. Several LDP executives have already said they will not act on them.

Watanabe did not give any indication of when he would leave the party, saying he will base the timing on his political instincts.

He also did not go into detail about his future plans.

Watanabe has said he has communicated with people who will possibly cooperate with him and did not rule out creating a new party.

He has said repeatedly there is a sense of stagnation in Japan, and that giving the public a chance to voice their opinion through a general election is the most effective way to lift the nation's mood.

At the end of the extraordinary Diet session last month, Watanabe voted for a nonbinding resolution submitted by the Democratic Party of Japan urging Aso to dissolve the Lower House and call a general election.

Watanabe has also claimed that the current government lacks a sense of crisis management, even though the economy is deteriorating rapidly amid the global financial crisis.

To get out of this predicament, the best way is to call an election and form a crisis management Cabinet through a grand coalition of major parties, Watanabe said.

"In this critical situation, the divided Diet is being run for the benefit of the parties," but this will eventually affect the people in a negative way, he said. "It is not a matter of whether the LDP is this or the DPJ is that. I am calling on (politicians) to have a greater sense of crisis."

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The Japan Times

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