DPJ issues budget-cutting plan

The Democratic Party of Japan submitted a set of proposals Feb. 19 to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its two smaller allies to cut by 3.4 trillion yen a planned 77.4 trillion yen budget package for fiscal 1997. Its proposals are an effort to prevent the already debt-stricken national coffers from slipping further into the red.

Joint DPJ leader Naoto Kan and policy chief Yoshito Sengoku met with LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato and chief policymaker Taku Yamasaki, as well as their counterparts from the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake. The DPJ leaders suggested that the government-proposed expenditure plan be reviewed and spending for public works projects cut by 10 percent.

The DPJ, the second largest opposition force, also demanded that public works projects that need several years to be completed should be postponed for a number of years and subsidies for government-affiliated corporations be thoroughly reviewed. “With these efforts, nearly 3.4 trillion yen can be saved,” Sengoku said.

However, Yamasaki said it would be almost impossible to review public works projects and subsidy plans already included in the fiscal 1997 budget package, Kan told reporters after the meeting. But Yamasaki did say he would relay the proposal to cut costs involved in public works projects at a meeting Feb. 20 of the ruling bloc and the government to discuss financial structural reform, because such efforts should be given serious consideration, Kan said.