Koizumi no-confidence motion voted down by Lower House

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted down a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet that was jointly submitted by the opposition parties a day before the end of the current Diet session.

The motion, submitted by the Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party, was widely viewed as a symbolic gesture in which the gauntlet was thrown down ahead of a House of Councilors election expected next month.

It was promptly voted down through the majority held by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito at a plenary session of the Lower House, by a vote of 280 to 193.

“From the viewpoint of the qualities (needed) as prime minister, (Koizumi) lacks the ability to act and neglects his duty to explain matters to the public,” DPJ leader Katsuya Okada told the chamber while explaining why the motion was presented.

The opposition camp submitted the no-confidence motion on the grounds that the Koizumi Cabinet had railroaded a package of controversial pension bills through the Diet without fulfilling its obligation to explain pension issues to the public.

The motion also called into question the administration’s decision to keep the Self-Defense Forces in Iraq despite the deteriorating security situation there, as well as the prime minister’s pledge — without Diet consensus — to have them join a multinational force for that country to be formed in line with a newly adopted U.N. Security Council resolution.

It also touched upon the lack of progress in various reforms proposed by the prime minister, such as the privatization of four public highway operators.

“Prime Minister Koizumi should step down immediately,” Okada said. “If the prime minister has no intention of resigning, then (he) should be given a vote of no-confidence in the name of this chamber.”

Ruling coalition lawmakers countered that the no-confidence motion was motivated by the upcoming Upper House election.

LDP lawmaker Norihiko Akagi said Koizumi’s reforms were on track, and that it was natural for Japan to try to rebuild and stabilize Iraq by providing humanitarian assistance.

He criticized the opposition for playing party politics, saying they were “grandstanding” to appeal to voters before the Upper House race.

“I find it hard to understand why the three opposition parties submitted the no-confidence motion against the Cabinet just one day before the Diet adjourns,” he said.