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LDP plans fresh talks with ally on collective defense

Kyodo

The Liberal Democratic Party’s No. 2 executive said Sunday the party will again try to persuade its Buddhist coalition partner, New Komeito, that Japan should be allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

“We will discuss the issue with New Komeito to find common ground,” LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said on NHK TV program. “I will not say by when we will reach a conclusion.”

In his policy speech at the Diet Friday, LDP chief Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will review its self-imposed ban on collective defense to pursue a greater security role abroad.

New Komeito’s leader, Natsuo Yamaguchi, said last week in an interview that it will be difficult to decide by June 22, when the Diet closes for the summer, whether to alter the nation’s long-standing interpretation of the Constitution so that Abe, who prioritized the issue during his brief first term in office, can have his way.

On Sunday, New Komeito Secretary-General Yoshihisa Inoue affirmed the party’s wary stance, saying on the same TV program, “We need to form a national consensus while gaining the understanding of the international community.”

Ishiba, meanwhile, said the economy should be closely monitored to see whether the second stage of the doubling of the consumption tax should proceed in October 2015 after being raised to 8 percent in April from the current 5 percent.

“I’m not going to suggest that the sales tax rate should by all means be raised in October next year,” he said.

Inoue said that a system to reduce the tax rate on basic necessities, including food, should be introduced when the consumption tax is finally doubled to 10 percent.

The LDP and New Komeito are also at odds over whether to introduce that system.