LDP secures Lower House budget approval

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party succeeded late Feb. 27 in ensuring that the 77.4 trillion yen budget package for fiscal 1997 will clear the Lower House next week with no amendments.

It is now almost certain that the budget will be enacted by the start of the new fiscal year on April 1. With help from the LDP’s two allies, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, the passage of the budget before the end of the current fiscal year means a victory for the minority government of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

Despite his sagging popularity and the absence of an LDP majority in the Diet, Hashimoto thus far has had little difficulty in pushing through the package. Stalemates in Diet proceedings over the annual budget have often proved fatal for past administrations.