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Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010

Kan taps Tachiagare as an ally

Staff writer

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has unofficially asked Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), a minor opposition force, to join the ruling bloc, a Tachiagare Nippon executive said Friday.

The move is an apparent attempt by Kan to gain as much support as possible to ensure passage of the budget and related bills for the next fiscal year.

Kan did not deny the allegation in a joint interview at the press club later in the day.

"(DPJ) Secretary General (Katsuya) Okada and I are meeting with various people in various positions," Kan said when asked if Okada and Tachiagare Nippon leader Takeo Hiranuma have met to discuss the partnership. "But I am not aware that any official (offer) has been made."

This kind of speculation surfaced after Kan met with Kaoru Yosano, coleader of the party comprised of members who bolted the Liberal Democratic Party, twice last month and earlier this month.

Tachiagare Nippon is divided over the offer and it is still unclear if it will participate. Okada met with Hiranuma on Wednesday to ask that the two parties hold a policy discussion, sources said.

However, because Tachiagare Nippon only has three members in the Lower House and three in the Upper House, its participation in the ruling coalition would not guarantee the votes needed to pass budget-related bills in the Diet.

The budget itself is expected to clear the Diet even if the Upper House votes it down because the decision of the Lower House, where the DPJ-led coalition has a majority, holds sway.

But this condition does not apply to the related bills necessary to enforce the budget. If those bills are voted down in the upper chamber, they need to be voted in again in the Lower House by a two-third majority, or 319 votes or more, to override the Upper House decision.

In the lower chamber, the DPJ and Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party) currently hold 311 seats plus two independents close to the DPJ. The ruling coalition needs six more seats to reach the 319 mark, which it would lack even with Tachiagare Nippon's three seats.

In the joint interview, Kan maintained that former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa should testify in the Diet as he pledged to do in October.

"He should keep the promise as a politician," Kan said, adding this pledge is one the opposition parties expect the DPJ to deliver on.

Calls are rising to summon Ozawa to the Diet for sworn testimony, unlike the nonbinding, unsworn testimony he has been urged to provide to the Lower House ethics panel.

Kan is expected to meet with Ozawa on Saturday to discuss the matter. Party executives including Okada, ex-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and Azuma Koshiishi, chairman of the party's Upper House caucus who is close to Ozawa, are also expected to attend along with Nobuaki Koga, chairman of Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo).

Asked if will reshuffle the Cabinet before the Diet convenes next month, Kan denied this is under consideration.

Information from Kyodo added

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The Japan Times

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