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Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
Sengoku tries to get opposition to back off
Opposition parties shouldn't boycott Diet deliberations attended by two key ministers targeted by nonbinding censure motions in the Upper House in November, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, one of those singled out, said Wednesday.
"If they boycott Diet deliberations because of the censure motions — a selfish strategy — the public will lose trust in politics and the Diet," Sengoku said during his first regular news conference of the year. "They should be very careful in engaging in such a tactic."
The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, the two main opposition parties, have said they will boycott deliberations whenever Sengoku and transport minister Sumio Mabuchi, both of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, are expected to attend.
The situation bodes ill for Prime Minister Naoto Kan's efforts to get the fiscal 2011 budget passed smoothly.
On Tuesday, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki said his party's goal for the year is to corner the DPJ-led government so it has no other choice but to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election.
"Cornering us to dissolve (the chamber) with a boycott is not what the public is hoping for," Sengoku said. "I want to ask them to 'corner us' through Diet deliberations."
Kan is expected to reshuffle the Cabinet after the DPJ holds its convention Jan. 13, possibly replacing Sengoku and Mabuchi so the opposition wouldn't have an excuse to bring the Diet to a screeching halt.
But Sengoku refused to comment on the much-rumored reshuffle.
Reshuffle seen likely
Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa spoke Wednesday of the need for changes in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, raising the odds of a reshuffle this month as part of efforts to avoid gridlock in the forthcoming Diet session.
"It is possible that some people may move out of the Cabinet and some others may enter the Cabinet from the (Democratic Party of Japan)," Kitazawa, who met with Kan for about an hour Tuesday night, told reporters.
Speculation is rife that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku will be removed and assigned a key DPJ post.