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Monday, Jan. 24, 2011

LDP pledges to send ruling party packing

Tanigaki vows to force snap poll, win April elections

Staff writer

Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki pledged Sunday at his party's annual convention to lead the fight to corner the ruling Democratic Party of Japan into dissolving the Lower House for a snap election.

"This year's goal is to drive the DPJ into a Lower House snap election and re-establish an LDP-led government," Tanigaki told his colleagues at the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. "The DPJ's campaign platform is just lip service," he said.

Participants also vowed to stand united so the LDP will prevail in April's municipal elections.

The Diet will start its 150-day session Monday. But Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to face a tough time getting his budget bills passed because the Upper House is controlled by the opposition. The DPJ and its junior partner, Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), lost their majority in the chamber in last July's election.

The LDP, the largest opposition force, has vowed to spurn nonpartisan discussions on social welfare and tax reforms until the DPJ presents its goals. Kan has been lobbying for multiparty talks, with an eye to drafting a concrete plan by June. The DPJ has not drafted a reform plan yet.

"The DPJ is responsible for showing us a proposal first," said Tanigaki, adding he doubts Kan has the courage to stake his political life on raising the 5 percent consumption tax after dropping his proposal for talks last summer when it appeared voters were cool to the idea just before the election last July.

Tanigaki said the LDP is reluctant to join multiparty discussions because the DPJ, by appointing former LDP heavyweight Kaoru Yosano as finance policy and social welfare reform minister, proves it cannot be trusted.

"The DPJ appointed someone who had been criticizing it. This is a case of 'Poverty dulls the conscience,' " Tanigaki said.

Yosano's appointment sparked controversy because he was one of the DPJ's harshest critics. Last January, when he was still with the LDP, Yosano published the book "The Democratic Party of Japan will Destroy the Japanese Economy" ("Minshuto ga Nihon Keizai wo Hakai suru"). He left the party in April to join Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) after condemning Tanigaki for failing to improve the LDP's opinion poll numbers.

In his speech, Tanigaki slammed other DPJ policies, including the monthly child allowance and the elimination of high school tuition, calling them pork-barrel tactics.

New Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi, invited by the LDP to be a guest speaker at the convention, backed his views on multiparty reform talks but was mum on the issue of pushing for a snap election.

"The DPJ should draft a proposal first. We cannot have talks without a proposal," said Yamaguchi, whose party was the junior member of the LDP-led ruling bloc that was ousted by the DPJ in the historic August 2009 general election. Yamaguchi, however, was mum on the issue of pushing for a snap election.

Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), said he hopes the LDP will actively participate in nonpartisan talks on social welfare, tax reform and Japan's prospects for entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

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The Japan Times

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