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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012

LDP pulls threat, will vote on bill for tax hike


By MASAMI ITO and NATSUKO FUKUE
Staff writers

In an apparent about-face Tuesday, the Liberal Democratic Party agreed to vote in favor of the contentious tax hike and social security legislation in the Upper House on Wednesday.

But at the same time, the conservative party threatened to up the pressure on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, to get him to clearly promise to dissolve the Lower House for an election soon.

If Noda refuses to comply, the LDP might renege on its support for the bills and even attempt to submit a no-confidence motion against Noda in the Lower House, party sources said.

Smaller opposition parties, including Your Party and Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People's Life First), led by recent DPJ defector Ichiro Ozawa, jointly submitted a no-confidence motion against Noda in the lower chamber Tuesday as well as a censure motion against him in the Upper House.

The LDP originally threatened on Monday to submit the motions and skip the vote on the bills, despite endorsing them in a June vote in the Lower House.

But New Komeito, the LDP's main ally, criticized this tack, apparently fearing jaded voters would view the LDP as engaging in more of the tit-for-tat power games played in the midst of last year's calamity at the expense of crucial reforms.

New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said passage of the tax hike bill should get priority and urged the LDP to act carefully.

The LDP "should consider very carefully the impact that passage of a censure motion or a no-confidence vote would have," Yamaguchi told reporters.

The New Komeito leader also criticized the smaller opposition parties for using the tax bill as a political tool.

"We should not prioritize the political power struggle, and the legislation should not be used merely as political leverage," he said.

Earlier the day, LDP policy chief Nobuteru Ishihara hinted his party will basically back Noda's bill but may think twice if he refuses to state when the Lower House will be dissolved for a snap poll.

"If the view is clear and the waves are calm, we will (support it), but if a storm comes or the outlook becomes cloudy, that's a different story," Ishihara said.

Noda was reportedly considering a one-on-one summit with LDP chief Sadakazu Tanigaki.



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