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Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009

LDP fires salvo at Hatoyama

First time in the Diet hot seat, DPJ chief forced to bob and weave


Staff writer

The Liberal Democratic Party, as the new embodiment of the opposition camp, wasted no time Wednesday in lashing out against the Democratic Party of Japan administration, grilling the Cabinet for lacking a long-term vision on national strategies and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's political funds scandal.

But the tactics occasionally backfired on the LDP, which was desperate to make an impression after finding itself in the opposition for only the second time in more than five decades.

"Who is responsible for creating this financial situation?" Hatoyama asked the Diet after being questioned by LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki on Japan's mounting deficit.

"I do not wish to be told by you that the new administration lacks vision," he added.

The Diet session began Wednesday with Tanigaki taking the stage and acknowledging that decades of power may have inflated the LDP's ego and made it aloof. "We may have been haughty," he admitted.

But the rookie LDP president quickly fired accusations at Hatoyama's team, saying "Japan's future cannot be trusted in their hands."

Tanigaki criticized the DPJ's pet project of distributing monthly child allowances to all households, claiming it will end up as a mere ad-hoc measure to lure voters. Hatoyama's policies are irresponsible and do not propose any means to promote economic growth, he said.

In an apparent allusion to tax hikes, Tanigaki also argued Hatoyama's government is merely trying to rely on temporary financial sources and is not securing "permanent revenue" for the government.

Hatoyama replied that his administration will first focus on cleaning up the wasteful budget it inherited from the LDP before considering a consumption tax hike.

"We must first rebuild the public's trust toward the government," he said.

On Hatoyama's false statements on his political fund reports, Tanigaki pressured the prime minister to come clean.

Many individuals listed as contributors to Hatoyama's fund management body were either dead or denied ever making donations.

"I want the prime minister to explain (the matter) to the public's satisfaction," Tanigaki said.

Hatoyama apologized for the situation, but only told the Diet he will cooperate with investigations.

On foreign affairs, Tanigaki warned that some DPJ proposals, including its review of plans to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, have upset Japan-U.S. ties. Proposals to end the Maritime Self-Defense Force refueling mission in the Indian Ocean will "cause a tear" in bilateral trust with the United States, Tanigaki said.

Hatoyama assured that Tokyo-Washington ties remain the foundation of Japan's diplomacy, and the relocation issue will be reviewed thoroughly and take into account public sentiment in Okinawa.

"Japan will actively provide (Afghanistan) assistance that is needed and that will be truly appreciated," he said of steps Tokyo will take after ending the MSDF mission.



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