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Six opposition parties agreed Wednesday to specific policy measures, including a call for tax cuts worth 6 trillion yen, for their planned joint parliamentary group.The leaders of the Democratic Party of Japan, Shinto Yuai (New Party Fraternity), Kokumin no Koe (Voice of the People), the Taiyo Party, From Five and the Democratic Reform League were to reach a final agreement on forming the group later in the evening.The parties hope that forming a joint group — to be the largest among opposition parties with 97 members in the Lower House and 39 in the Upper House — will enable them to act in a unified fashion to challenge the powerful Liberal Democratic Party.The basic policies agreed upon cover economic issues, administrative and fiscal reform, political ethics, security, energy, environmental protection and social welfare. Among them are calls for a 3 trillion yen cut in income and residential taxes and another 3 trillion yen cut in corporate, and housing- and land-related taxes.The group would also call for the use of public funds to be restricted to compensating depositors and not for bailing out troubled financial institutions. On administrative reform, the policies call for the promotion of decentralization and transferring financial and administrative power from the central to local governments.The parties consider the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty as the basis for their policies but they intend to call for U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture to be realigned and reduced. Japan’s participation in U.N. peacekeeping activities should be conducted within the limitations of the Constitution, they say.Earlier in the day, some of the six parties held separate meetings between members of both the Upper and Lower houses to gain approval of the joint measures agreed to by the parties’ policy chiefs the previous night.Lawmakers from Shinto Yuai, Kokumin no Koe and From Five basically approved the joint policy measures and group statement. However, at a meeting of Shinto Yuai, many lawmakers expressed displeasure with the general perception that the group’s formation is being undertaken on the initiative of the DPJ, according to participants.They said the creation of the parliamentary group will be realized through the hard work of all parties concerned and not just through the leadership of the DPJ.Social Democratic Party leader Takako Doi criticized the plans of the six opposition parties, saying the planned group lacks responsible policies. “There were many news stories that aroused worries over the future of (Japanese) politics at the end of last year,” Doi told a labor union meeting in Tokyo, alluding to the breakup of Shinshinto in late December.Doi said responsible policies are most important for party politics, adding that “parties will have no worth if they lose (such policies).”

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