The Liberal Democratic Party and the Liberal Party agreed at working-level discussions Thursday to cut the number of bureaucrats by 25 percent over a 10-year period starting next year.

The two parties also agreed to reduce the number of ministers to 14 with a maximum of up to 17, if necessary. The measure will be implemented Jan. 1, 2001 along with other administrative reforms, according to members of the working group.

The two parties are to hold a joint press conference today on their agreement, they said. The agreement will be reflected in an administrative reform outline to be approved by the Cabinet next Tuesday.

The issue of administrative reforms and a cut in the number of bureaucrats was one of the policy agendas agreed upon between Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa last November.

While the LDP had been resisting the Liberal Party’s proposal to cut the number of bureaucrats by 25 percent, it finally gave in to the Liberal Party’s demands.

Eiichi Nakamura, a Liberal Party’s member of the working group, told reporters that he is fully satisfied with the results. He also said the Liberal Party had proposed during the discussion that the Defense Agency be upgraded to a defense ministry, and that LDP counterparts expressed their support for the idea.

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