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Sunday, Sep. 23, 2012
New Komeito's re-elected chief urges snap poll
New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi was officially reappointed at a party convention Saturday in Tokyo.
The 60-year-old Upper House member said that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who was re-elected head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan on Friday, needs to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election after finalizing his key policy goals.
They will likely include more social security reforms and a special bill to authorize the issuance of deficit-covering bonds, which make up about 40 percent of the fiscal 2012 budget. If the bond bill isn't passed, the government won't be able to fully implement the budget.
"The censure motion against Noda was passed in the Diet. Under such circumstances, the prime minister should hold an extraordinary Diet session immediately and after dealing with pending problems, he should ask the public to judge him" in a general election, Yamaguchi told the convention in Shinagawa Ward.
If Noda completes these tasks, "The leaders of the DPJ, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito should hold talks and confirm the trilateral agreement again," he said.
In August, Noda told Yamaguchi and LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki that he will dissolve the House of Representatives "soon," a promise made to gain cooperation from the two parties to pass social security and tax reform legislation.
Since then, however, Noda has indicated that he may reshuffle his Cabinet and the DPJ's executive lineup to bolster his political clout. He also hinted on a TV program Tuesday that he may delay the election.
Yamaguchi said in a news conference afterward that the August agreement "is still in effect."
He urged Noda to deliver on his promise, saying, "I think Noda should put (his dissolution pledge) into action as soon as possible."
While critical of Noda's political maneuvering, New Komeito has a slightly different stance from the LDP on key issues.
For example, the party abstained from voting on the censure motion that seven opposition parties submitted against Noda in August in the Upper House to criticize a tax hike bill to double the sales tax to 10 percent by 2015 to cover swelling social security expenses.
New Komeito abstained because voting for the censure motion would have been inconsistent with the trilateral agreement reached in August. The LDP, however, backed the motion in an attempt to pressure Noda into a quick exit.
Yamaguchi, who has led New Komeito since 2009, was re-elected without opposition. His term will end in September 2014. He reappointed Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue, policy chief Keiichi Ishii and Diet Affairs chief Yoshio Urushibara.