Naoto Kan, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, called on visiting Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Oct. 23 to ask for advice on forming an alliance of center-left political parties.During their 30-minute meeting at a Tokyo hotel, Kan asked Prodi why his Olive Tree centrist-leftist ruling alliance has obtained public support. “The alliance has pledged that it will gradually, not drastically, reform society, through a variety of deregulations and decentralization of power,” Prodi was quoted as saying.Prodi added that it is important for politicians to show the public that a shift in power from one political side to the other is possible. The alliance has been in power for about 1 1/2 years, although there was five days of political turmoil earlier this month when Prodi’s position was questioned.Kan, head of Japan’s second largest opposition party, hopes to form a center-left opposition alliance to counter the powerful Liberal Democratic Party. Kan told reporters that he informed Shigeru Ito, secretary general of the Social Democratic Party, one of the LDP’s two smaller allies, about his meeting with Prodi.Kan and Ito agreed to arrange the second meeting of a study group set up by Ito in May with 37 center-left lawmakers from five parties. Although Ito had intended the study group to be a precursor to a union of liberal-minded politicians currently scattered in the DPJ, SDP, New Party Sakigake and others, it did not have sufficient momentum to meet that goal.

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