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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Liberal Party agreed Friday to start discussions on specific measures to implement a Nov. 19 joint policy agreement that includes a proposed reduction in the number of Diet members.

LDP Secretary General Yoshiro Mori and Liberal Party Secretary General Takeshi Noda also agreed to hold working-level talks on the latter’s proposal to cut the number of bureaucrats and replace parliamentary vice ministers with deputy ministers who would be given more power, officials of the two parties said.

The timing and scale of a Cabinet reshuffle, the number of Cabinet members and security issues are to be discussed at a top-level meeting between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, who heads the LDP, and Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa this morning, according to the officials.

At the Nov. 19 meeting, Ozawa called for, among other things, reducing the number of Diet seats by eliminating 50 seats each in the upper and lower chambers.

While some members of both parties want to reduce the number of lawmakers elected through the proportional representation system, others are calling for an overhaul of the entire election system.

Along with the creation of a more powerful deputy minister system, Ozawa has proposed abolishing the current system of having bureaucrats answer questions directed to lawmakers during Diet deliberations.

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