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A Lower House plenary session voted down a no-confidence motion Friday against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto by a 273-207 vote.

The motion, filed Thursday by three opposition parties — the Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Party and Japanese Communist Party — was voted down by the Liberal Democratic Party and its former non-Cabinet allies — the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake. Three of the 15 SDP members abstained from voting.

The Heiwa-Kaikaku parliamentary group, the second-largest opposition force, and some independent members voted in favor of the motion although they declined to jointly file the bid.

Because the LDP, which Hashimoto heads, dominates the powerful Lower House, the opposition camp’s move was seen as a symbolic gesture ahead of the Upper House election to be held July 12.

In the plenary session, opposition members criticized Hashimoto for causing the economy to stagnate through failed economic policies. DPJ Secretary General Tsutomu Hata demanded that the prime minister step down to take responsibility for failing to boost the economy and to recover public trust in politics. “Japan’s current serious economic condition has been caused by the policy failures of Hashimoto,” Hata said. “Hashimoto’s resignation would be good not only for the country but also for the international community.”

Other issues raised included the Hashimoto Cabinet’s reluctance to improve political ethics and its failure to streamline the U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

The DPJ, the largest opposition party, had attempted to unite opposition forces in filing the motion as a show of unification under the DPJ’s leadership. However, the Heiwa-Kaikaku camp declined to join the action because of differences in policy and the steering of Diet affairs.

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