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Friday, June 11, 2010

Weak poll may spur tieup with LDP defectors: Edano

Staff writer

The Democratic Party of Japan may reach out to other parties if it fails to gain a majority in next month's Upper House election, the new DPJ secretary general hinted Thursday.

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Yukio Edano, 46, took over the No. 2 post Monday from DPJ kingpin Ichiro Ozawa, who resigned along with former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama last week to help the party survive their money scandals and the Cabinet's dwindling support rate.

The resignation of the most powerful and scandal-tainted figures in the party provided an instant boost, giving the DPJ, under new Prime Minister Naoto Kan, a real chance at succeeding in the election.

While Edano emphasized that his job is to concentrate on leading the party to victory, he hinted that failure to secure a majority in the upper chamber may force it to seek alliances — even with defectors from its conservative foe, the Liberal Democratic Party.

"There is a difference in political attitudes between those who defected from the LDP before it was ousted from power, and those who left after it joined the opposition camp," Edano said. "I believe a certain amount of reliability can be placed on those who left the LDP while it was still the ruling party."

While Edano didn't mention names, Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe, for example, is among those who exited the LDP while it was still in power.

Edano, who was administrative reform minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet, was a key figure in the task force set up late last year to review the previous administration's budget. He is also one of the few members of the party who openly criticized Ozawa for his dubious funding reports.

On Wednesday, a brief ceremonial visit between Edano and the "shadow shogun" reinforced reports the two were on bad terms. The visit, which signals the handover of the title and normally takes half an hour, lasted a mere three minutes.

Edano brushed off the speculation, saying the meeting didn't involve any practical business and isn't a time-consuming procedure to begin with.

The opposition camp has been pestering Ozawa to speak to the Diet about his involvement in shady political funds transfers. But Edano said any decision on the matter would wait until the inquest panel at the prosecutor's office had reached a decision.

He also said he plans to review the party's current system of receiving petitions from groups representing the interests of various industries.

Under Ozawa, such petitions were channeled through the DPJ secretary general's office. Ozawa had said he aimed at preventing cozy ties developing between civil servants and vested interests.

Edano said this system significantly boosted the secretary general's authority, and said it would be better if the Policy Research Council — which Kan has revived — take over the responsibility.

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The Japan Times

Article 6 of 15 in National news

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