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OYAMAMA, Shizuoka Pref. — Japan’s next prime minister should exercise strong leadership in tackling the nation’s economic crisis even though it would mean the issuance of deficit-covering bonds, participants at a Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) seminar said in a statement released Friday.

Day 2 of Keidanren’s forum coincided with the election of Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi as president of the Liberal Democratic Party. Obuchi, 61, is almost certain to be elected prime minister in a Diet vote Thursday, due to the LDP’s solid majority in the powerful Lower House.

The Keidanren forum adopted a set of policy proposals to be given to the government that Obuchi will establish next week. In the statement, Keidanren requested that the new government effectively use fiscal measures to stimulate the economy, including additional public works projects, while implementing measures to stabilize and strengthen the nation’s financial system.

“We agreed that the government should freeze the Fiscal Structural Reform Law for a while,” said Keidanren Chairman Takashi Imai after the two-day seminar.

Imai’s remarks clearly indicated a shift from Keidanren’s former stance to promote the Fiscal Structural Reform Law. He said that LDP members should be united and cooperate with opposition parties to pass the necessary bills in the next Diet session.

Political turmoil — such as a possible split of LDP members — must not occur following the selection of Obuchi as LDP president, he added.

Keidanren also called for tax reforms and deregulation.

During the second day, participants discussed Asia’s economic crisis and Japan’s role in the region. “Japanese companies should continue direct investment to Asian countries since they have played a significant role in their industrial development,” said Naohiko Kumagai, chairman of Mitsui & Co.

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