A leading member of an Upper House opposition force lashed out at Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on Jan. 23 over his policy toward South Korea and China.Takushi Hirai, chairman of Heiseikai, the largest opposition force in the chamber, which mainly consists of Shinshinto and Komei members, charged that the government has been “obsequious” in handling diplomatic issues involving the two nations. “Japan should say and do what it should say and do without hesitation,” Hirai told an Upper House plenary session during an interpellation to Hashimoto’s speech on Jan. 20. Hirai was referring to territorial disputes over the Takeshima Islands, known as the Tok-do isles in South Korea, as well as the Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China.He went on to say he believes his irritation may be shared by many members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which Hashimoto heads. In response, Hashimoto said the government has clearly expressed its stance on such issues and will continue to work to build better relations with both countries.

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