LDP chief holds tax bill hostage to election

by Natsuko Fukue

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda needs to give assurances that he will dissolve the Lower House and call a snap election before the Liberal Democratic Party votes for his social security and tax reform bills in the Upper House, the leader of the top opposition party said Monday.

“It’s about time” for Noda’s administration to ask for a public judgment via a general election, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki told reporters in Hiroshima Prefecture.

LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara also said the prime minister must state when the Lower House will be dissolved if he wants to break the deadlock over his key bills.

Ishihara made the comment after the LDP turned down a proposal by Noda’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan earlier in the day to vote on the tax reform bills in the Upper House on Wednesday, as the LDP had earlier requested.

“We were saying from the beginning that the Diet should vote on Aug. 8, but the DPJ said it had to be Aug. 20 or it could be moved earlier on certain conditions. I think their proposal (today) came too late,” Ishihara said at LDP headquarters.

To pressure Noda, the LDP is threatening to submit a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet and a censure motion against the prime minister possibly Tuesday if Noda fails to promise an early election.

“There have been strong calls (to submit the motions) within the party,” said Tanigaki.

Meanwhile, Noda avoided comment on whether he would dissolve the Lower House. The current term of lawmakers in the chamber runs until next summer.

“I will deal with it at the right time under my responsibility,” he said while also in Hiroshima.

The LDP initially hoped to pressure Noda into dissolving the Lower House after voting in the Upper House on the reform bills, including one to double the 5 percent sales tax by 2015.

Last month, the LDP, the DPJ and New Komeito agreed to aim for passage of the bills by the end of the Diet session, but the opposition camp took a hardline stance because Noda was refusing to dissolve the Lower House and instead is now also pursuing a supplementary budget and next year’s budget, a sign that the DPJ wants to hold onto the power at least until December.

“They have been repeatedly making remarks indicating they want to prolong the DPJ’s rule,” Toshimitsu Motegi, LDP policy chief, said Monday.

Information from Kyodo added