Noda to opposition: Cooperate on budget

by Alex Martin

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda in a financial policy speech Tuesday called for the opposition camp to cooperate and help swiftly pass the supplementary budget for fiscal 2010.

Noda’s speech, initially scheduled for Monday, was delayed after opposition parties threatened to boycott a Diet plenary session in objection to the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s failure to summon party bigwig Ichiro Ozawa to testify before the Diet over his political money scandal.

But deliberations on the extra budget are now expected to proceed after a compromise was reached between the ruling and opposition camps, with the DPJ promising it will make further efforts to bring Ozawa before the Diet.

“To respond appropriately to our current difficult economic situation, and to ensure economic recovery, the earliest possible enactment of this supplementary budget is necessary,” Noda said during an afternoon plenary session of both Diet chambers.

“I sincerely ask for your swift approval following deliberations,” he said, after giving an overview of the ¥5.1 trillion emergency stimulus package aimed at tackling deflation and the high yen.

The opposition has been asking that Ozawa be summoned to give sworn testimony following a September decision by an independent judicial panel that he be indicted over his alleged role in falsifying a financial report by his political body, Rikuzankai.

Despite DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada’s repeated requests for Ozawa to discuss appearing before the Diet, a meeting has yet to take place.

Instead of sworn testimony, the DPJ has been trying to get Ozawa to appear before the Diet’s Deliberative Council on Political Ethics.

While aiming to gain Diet approval during the ongoing session, which will end in early December, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has been forced to maneuver carefully since the DPJ-led coalition lost its majority in the Upper House in the summer election.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, head of the Liberal Democratic Party, has said the main opposition party would join the debate on condition that Kan accepts demands related to an LDP bill on national tax reforms and fiscal discipline.

The extra fiscal 2010 budget, which includes some ¥4.4 trillion in spending, is aimed at easing the impact of the yen’s rise and kick-starting the deflation-plagued economy. Information from Kyodo added