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While the Liberal Democratic Party and Liberal Party will jointly tackle Japan’s mounting problems, they will also try to seek support from other parties to stabilize the government, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said Thursday.

“The two parties will cooperate with each other with the new conservative principles in mind and try to utilize the strengths of each party for a synergistic effect on the nation’s politics,” the prime minister told a news conference after the launch of the new coalition Cabinet.

Obuchi also said the coalition government will try to negotiate with other parties because it lacks a majority in the Upper House.

However, when questioned on policy disputes that divided the two parties all the way up to the launch of the new Cabinet, Obuchi put on his best face to play down the often-heated arguments.

Explaining why Liberal Party Secretary General Takeshi Noda joined the Cabinet in place of party leader Ichiro Ozawa — whom the prime minister had requested — Obuchi said Ozawa told him he wanted to concentrate on managing his party.

Asked whether a full-scale Cabinet reshuffle is on his mind in the near future, perhaps after the Diet approves the fiscal 1999 budget, Obuchi said he had no plans. “In the future, the time may come to study such a Cabinet (reshuffle). I don’t have such a plan right now,” he said.

On the security agreement the two parties agreed to Wednesday, Obuchi said that it was a result of thorough discussions among their policy chiefs, and that his government will aim to have the Diet approve bills related to the updated Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines as early as possible.

The prime minister also said that both parties acknowledge the importance of the Japan-U.S. security pact and have no differences to address on the bills’ principles.

But describing the differences that exist between Ozawa and himself regarding party leadership and policy formulation, Obuchi said Ozawa is like a fastball pitcher whereas he delivers the ball slowly. “If the leaders of the two parties closely and steadily discuss various issues, it will bring a greater effect,” he told reporters.

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