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Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012

DPJ set to reconvene Diet; foes firm on quest for election


By MASAMI ITO and NATSUKO FUKUE
Staff writers

Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi on Monday officially asked the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito to cooperate in kicking off the next extraordinary Diet session before the end of the month.

Koshiishi met with LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba and New Komeito Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue to also set a date for a meeting between the leaders of the three parties by the end of the week to seek a breakthrough in the deadlock triggered by a censure motion the opposition-controlled Upper House approved at the end of August.

The LDP and New Komeito however demanded that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who promised in August he would dissolve the Lower House for an election "soon," do so before the end of the year.

The three secretaries general plan to meet again Thursday.

"Those were the prime minister's words and I promised that I would confirm his intention by the next meeting," Koshiishi said after the meeting.

Speculation has been growing that the DPJ is afraid to hold an extraordinary Diet session because it is on the verge of losing its Lower House majority and could be cornered into holding an election. Various media polls suggest the DPJ would lose badly if an election were held soon and its lawmakers are desperate to postpone the campaign as long as possible.

The LDP and New Komeito are not going to just sit back and wait — they desperately want to dethrone the DPJ.

"It has already been two months since (Noda) promised to seek the judgment of the people 'soon,' and common sense tells us that an election will be held by the end of the year," Inoue said. "Considering various factors, including (the timing of) drafting next year's budget . . . we think that early December is the best time to avoid affecting the lives of the people."

Meanwhile, the LDP's Ishiba hinted his party may be willing to cooperate on the passage of two key bills — one to ease the vote-value disparity in Lower House elections and one for issuing deficit-covering bonds — in the next Diet session if Noda promises to call a general election by year's end.

"We are well aware that correcting the vote-value disparity and the bond bill, which heavily affects people's livelihoods, are the two things we have to do," Ishiba said after meeting with Koshiishi and Inoue. "If we are to discuss (the Diet session), we have to pass the bond bill and fix the disparity.

"(The DPJ) shouldn't say things like we're holding (the bills) hostage. We're just asking (Noda) to keep his promise" to dissolve the Lower House and call an election, Ishiba said.



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