Kan foes in DPJ set to join ouster ploy

by Masami Ito

Staff Writer

The drive to oust Prime Minister Naoto Kan gathered steam Monday as speculation grew that key members of his party would join forces with the opposition to submit, possibly as early as this week, a vote of no confidence to the Diet.

For the motion to succeed, more than 80 lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan would have to sign on, perhaps opening the door to party heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa, a former DPJ leader who must now decide whether to take charge and cooperate with the opposition parties to bring Kan down.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku on Monday morning tried to forestall the drive by arguing that changing leaders will do nothing to help the nation recover from the nuclear crisis.

“The nuclear power accident is not so simple that a change in government would help the situation somehow,” Sengoku said. “I think that is an illogical jump.”

Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito lawmakers want to submit a no-confidence motion “as soon as possible,” a position supported by other opposition parties including the Japanese Communist Party, Your Party and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan).

Sengoku dismissed the idea as running counter to the will of the disaster victims themselves.

“How will the disaster victims, those living in evacuation centers or those forced to live outside their houses and homeland view” the vote of no confidence, Sengoku asked.

“I think being able to stand from that viewpoint is important.”

Instead, the outspoken lawmaker, who is also DPJ deputy chief, stressed the need for a “grand coalition” including the LDP to ensure that bills pass through the divided Diet. The ruling bloc holds a majority in the Lower House but is outgunned in the Upper House.

“In general, I think that we need to form a grand coalition, or a cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties, to overcome this situation especially amid a divided Diet in the Upper House,” Sengoku said. “Without it, I don’t think we can get over this” crisis.