Mori, Ozawa face off in Diet

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa locked horns for the first time Wednesday as the two politicians made their first appearances as opponents in a Diet “question time” session.

During the session, in which opposition party leaders engage in one-on-one debate with the prime minister, Ozawa chided Mori for his lack of vision.

“The prime minister must first present his own ideas then seek opinions, instead of asking advisory panels to churn out ideas and allowing bureaucrats to do as they please,” said Ozawa, who moved to the opposition camp after his party left the ruling coalition.

Mori explained that he had tried not to alter policy too much in order to smoothly fill the shoes of his predecessor, Keizo Obuchi, who has been comatose since his stroke earlier this month.

“I thought I should refrain from mentioning things beyond what former Prime Minister Obuchi had intended,” Mori said. “I hope to carry his beliefs on and further develop them.”

Mori reiterated, however, that he believes areas of Japan’s postwar systems, including the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education, should be changed as they are beginning to deviate from present-day reality.

Despite expectations, however, the maverick Ozawa spent most of his allotted time — eight minutes — effectively just exchanging words of greeting with Mori, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party.

Earlier in the debate session, Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama again attacked Mori for the murky manner in which power was transferred from Obuchi, who remains in a coma.

In response, Mori said, “The decision of who should be the next LDP president is not necessarily made in full view of the public.”

He reiterated that there was nothing wrong with the process, which effectively led him to win the prime ministership.