Leaders of the opposition camp and some elements in the ruling force Jan. 20 criticized Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s policy speech, saying it sounded empty because he merely read what had been prepared for him by bureaucrats .”The prime minister simply read a manuscript written by bureaucrats and did not explain why the government needs to impose a much heavier financial burden on the public next fiscal year,” said Naoto Kan, coleader of the Democratic Party of Japan, after a plenary session during which Hashimoto delivered the speech. Echoing Kan’s view, Tetsuzo Fuwa, leader of the Japanese Communist Party, said the speech reflected Hashimoto’s lack of sincerity to taxpayers.Fuwa also pointed out that Hashimoto should have pinpointed the items that should be first tackled as reform efforts, instead of promising to carry out reforms in as many as six areas. Partly sharing views with Kan and Fuwa, Shinshinto Secretary General Takeo Nishioka said Hashimoto’s determination to promote the reforms was not mirrored either in a supplementary budget plan for fiscal 1996 or in the package of budget plans for fiscal 1997.Takako Doi, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said Hashimoto should have mentioned details about how the reforms will be promoted. The SDP has cooperative relations with the LDP in the Diet, but when asked if the SDP will support the extra budget plan and the budget package for fiscal 1997, Doi declined to answer and said discussions about the budget plans should come first.

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