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Friday, June 8, 2012

Opposition agrees to tax hike talks with DPJ


Staff writer

The two largest opposition parties officially announced Thursday they will begin talks with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan over its proposed sales tax hike and social reforms.

Liberal Democratic Party chief Sadakazu Tanigaki said his party will participate in discussions on condition that all sides first pledge to reach an agreement by June 15 on legislation for the Diet, and that a Lower House vote on the related bills takes place during the current session, which is scheduled to end June 21.

Taking its cue from the largest opposition party, New Komeito also agreed to start negotiations with the DPJ later Thursday.

Both parties had steadfastly rejected Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's appeals to begin trilateral talks, and their U-turn was apparently prompted by DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi's promise Wednesday that the ruling party will strive to reach an agreement by June 15.

"We also want (the DPJ) to accept our proposals on social security reform. That's another precondition to launching negotiations," Tanigaki told a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The LDP is demanding that Noda's administration scrap its pension reform plan, which would guarantee minimum benefits of ¥70,000 per month.

But the party will continue pressing Noda to dissolve the Lower House and call a snap election, Tanigaki stressed.

New Komeito had previously refused to begin negotiations with the DPJ, citing the alleged inadequacy of Noda's plan to reform social security. However, the party's secretary general, Yoshihisa Inoue, announced that its stance has shifted.

"We don't have to block the talks from taking place. We can achieve our policies through joining discussions," Inoue said.



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The Japan Times

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