Opposition slams Noda for dodging discussion of reconstruction budget

by Natsuko Fukue

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda came under fire from opposition lawmakers at the Lower House Budget Committee meeting Monday for failing to keep the Diet in session long enough to discuss the budget for the reconstruction of the disaster-hit Tohoku region.

Nobuteru Ishihara, secretary general of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, said that committee meetings should have been held last week, and hinted Noda hasn’t gained the trust of the LDP. “(Noda) sounds like he didn’t want to extend the Diet session,” Ishihara said. “He talks about the need for discussions with the opposition (on the budget) but trust is needed as a precondition.”

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan originally planned a four-day Diet session, to end on Sept. 16, ahead of Noda’s departure for the United States to attend a series of U.N. meetings. But, bowing to demands from opposition parties, the session was extended to 14 days through Friday.

The LDP, New Komeito and other opposition parties argued the session should be extended by 28 days through Oct. 14.

Ishihara said the next session has to be a long one to discuss mounting issues including the third extra budget for Tohoku reconstruction.

But Noda avoided giving a detailed schedule for the next Diet session. “We will complete a proposal of the third extra budget as soon as possible, and start the (next) Diet session promptly,” he said.

“For the moment, reconstruction from the disaster and putting an end to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident are the issues of utmost importance. (The government) will also deal with the economic crisis steadily,” he said.