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Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010

Stimulus budget wins Diet passage

Upper House opposition censure motions target Sengoku, Mabuchi

Staff writer

The Diet late Friday enacted the supplementary budget to fund a ¥5.1 trillion stimulus package even though the opposition rejected the package in the Upper House.

The decision in the more powerful Lower House, controlled by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and its small coalition partner, Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), overrode the Upper House vote.

Meanwhile, the Upper House passed nonbinding censure motions jointly submitted by the Liberal Democratic Party in the Upper House against Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku and transport minister Sumio Mabuchi. Your Party jointly submitted the one against Sengoku.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the DPJ chief, however, said he will keep both ministers in their posts.

"I have no intention to replace them," Kan told the Upper House Budget Committee.

The LDP submitted the motions separately, holding the two ministers responsible for the leak onto the Internet of video clips showing the collisions between Japan Coast Guard vessels and a Chinese trawler off the Senkaku Islands in September. A coast guardsman leaked the footage at a Kobe Internet cafe.

If both ministers stay, the LDP, the largest opposition force, plans to boycott Diet deliberations attended by the two ministers.

A boycott could stall progress on DPJ-led government-sponsored bills because the ruling bloc might find it difficult to forcibly ram its bills through the Diet without deliberations involving LDP lawmakers.

New Komeito, a junior player in the opposition camp, supported the LDP-led censure motions, but the party had yet to decide whether to join the boycott of Diet sessions, New Komeito officials said.

The ruling bloc accused the LDP of being inconsistent, saying it was threatening to boycott deliberations while pushing the DPJ to hold a one-on-one debate between Kan and opposition leaders next Wednesday.

"When the new week starts, they are asking to hold a one-on-one session. That's inconsistent," DPJ executive Azuma Koshiishi said.

With passage of the extra budget, Kan cleared his biggest political task in the special session.

But the trouble Kan went through just to pass the extra budget while wrestling with the divided Diet showed he is likely to face a tougher time in next year's ordinary session, when the fiscal 2011 budget will be deliberated.

The stimulus package includes ¥3.1 trillion for regional economies, small and midsize businesses and new infrastructure, while ¥1.1 trillion is earmarked for welfare and child-rearing measures.

At the Upper House, the LDP, New Komeito, Your Party, the Japanese Communist Party and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party) voted against the budget. Meanwhile the Social Democratic Party, an opposition force, supported it, in addition to the DPJ and Kokumin Shinto.

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The Japan Times

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