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Shinshinto lawmakers gave the go-ahead Jan. 14 — some reluctantly — to the proposal by the party’s leadership to back legal revisions to enable Japanese troops to take part in U.N. operations that go beyond normal peacekeeping missions.The endorsement was given after lengthy debate at a general meeting of party members from both houses of the Diet. Following the decision, the leadership of the main opposition party will compile a draft of a basic law on the issue of Japan’s participation in U.N. military activities and other security matters, so the party is able to submit the bills to the next ordinary session of the Diet. The session will start Jan. 20.The meeting was arranged by the party leadership, headed by President Ichiro Ozawa, so it could determine major policy agenda items for 1997 before a party convention slated for next month. By providing party members with an opportunity to speak out, Ozawa was apparently aiming to fend off lingering internal criticism that he is dogmatic on the formation of key policies.Party lawmakers also approved the leadership’s decision to continue demanding 18 trillion yen in tax cuts as the party’s official policy pledge, although some members said the idea is unrealistic.

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