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Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

Kan says he won't seek Yanagida's head over Diet gaffe

Staff writers

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Thursday he has no plans to replace Justice Minister Minoru Yanagida over remarks disparaging his Diet duty despite mounting calls from the opposition camp that he step down.

"I gave him a strong warning," Kan told the Upper House Budget Committee. "I don't think I need to dismiss him."

Kan's remark came as the Liberal Democratic Party searched for the right time to slap Yanagida with a censure motion, which would be nonbinding but is likely to be passed by the opposition-controlled Upper House.

"He is unfit as justice minister," LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki charged at a news conference. "If he doesn't quit, we will consider submitting a censure motion."

Tanigaki also said the party is considering submitting a no-confidence motion against Yanagida in the Lower House.

But this kind of motion, which is binding, would not stand a chance of passage because the Lower House is controlled by the Democratic Party of Japan-led ruling bloc.

On when the motions would be submitted, Tanigaki said the LDP will need to consult with other opposition parties before it reaches a decision.

Other opposition parties were likewise gearing up to go after Yanagida.

The Social Democratic Party decided Thursday to vote for the censure motion in the Upper House if the LDP submits it. New Komeito is also expected to support it, making passage a certainty.

"Bragging about how he could get away by evading answers in the Diet makes him unfit" as a Cabinet minister, SDP Secretary General Yasumasa Shigeno said. "We won't vote against the motion if its submitted."

Yanagida apologized again Thursday, saying: "It was careless and thoughtless. I will respond to questioning at the Diet more earnestly and sincerely."

Information from Kyodo added

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