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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nakasone predicts formation of LDP-DPJ grand coalition


Staff writer

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said Friday there is a big chance a grand coalition will form between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan after the next general election to stabilize the government and weather the recession.

"Even if it does not last a long time, the gathering of the forces to create a government of national unity will happen," Nakasone said. "I believe that is desirable and should be done."

This is not the first time talk of a grand coalition has surfaced. In November 2007, then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa tried to join hands behind closed doors but failed after the DPJ's top executives balked.

The so-called fixer of the pact was said to be Tsuneo Watanabe, head of the Yomiuri media group. Watanabe, who goes by the nickname "Nabe-tsune," was also present at Friday's talk with Nakasone, which was hosted by Jiji Press.

"I am an advocate for a grand coalition and I did try and fail to do so at the end of 2007," Watanabe said.

The outlook for the general election is gloomy on both sides. Prime Minister Taro Aso is plagued by chronically low public support that threatens to split the party. Ozawa is busy dealing with an unusual donations "scandal" that has resulted in the indictment of his chief secretary.

One side has to win, but if neither does so convincingly, the result could trigger a grand coalition, Watanabe said.

"This election could be the perfect excuse to give the public for the ruling and opposition parties to come together," he said, agreeing with Nakasone. "After the election, Japan could come to the conclusion that it needs to gather all of its strength so as not to lose to the other countries, possibly forming a grand coalition to tackle the long-term global recession."


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By TAKAHIRO FUKADA


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