Three opposition parties filed a joint no-confidence motion Thursday evening against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, citing Hashimoto’s failure to boost the nation’s economy.

The Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Party and Japanese Communist Party jointly presented the motion to the Lower House after the first round of questions over bills concerning the supplementary budget for fiscal 1998 was completed at the Lower House’s Budget Committee.

The move was not expected to topple Hashimoto from power because the Liberal Democratic Party, which he heads, dominates the powerful Lower House. Most view the step as a symbolic gesture ahead of Upper House elections that will probably be held July 12.

The motion will be voted down at a Lower House plenary session today. The Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, former non-Cabinet allies of the LDP, will also vote against it.

DPJ President Naoto Kan, Liberal Party head Ichiro Ozawa and JCP chief Tetsuzo Fuwa met reporters at a hastily arranged press conference to demand that Hashimoto step down to help economic recovery and restore public trust in politics. It is rare for the JCP to take joint action with other parties. “Hashimoto’s failed economic policies have caused serious economic conditions. Hashimoto bears huge responsibility for it,” Kan said. “This is the main reason for the no-confidence motion.”

Other reasons include reluctance to improve political ethics and the failure to streamline U.S. military bases in Okinawa. LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato criticized the move, saying the filing of such a motion has become a common practice toward the end of a Diet session. “Because all the opposition parties except the JCP have experience in a ruling bloc, I wished that they had shown understanding and supported the Hashimoto administration, which is implementing the daunting task of reform,” Kato told reporters.

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