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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its two smaller non-Cabinet allies agreed Oct. 21 that Article 4 of the Cabinet Law should be rewritten to empower the prime minister to propose policy-related topics during Cabinet meetings.But the LDP failed to reach a consensus with the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake over whether Article 6 of the law should also be revised to authorize the prime minister to issue direct orders to ministry officials in cases of emergency.As this would free the prime minister from first obtaining the consent of ministers involved, the SDP and Sakigake argued that the legislative revision may lead to providing the Cabinet leader with excessive power. They rejected a proposal that the Cabinet decide things by majority, as opposed to the current practice by which everything is decided by consensus, saying that the prime minister should exercise leadership to build consensus.Current Cabinet meetings are under public fire for their inability to decide anything opposed by a top bureaucrat prior to a regular Cabinet meeting. Many people criticize the Cabinet as being totally controlled by bureaucrats and Cabinet meetings as “ceremonies” lacking in substance.

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