The Liberal Democratic Party and Liberal Party reached a formal agreement at working-level discussions Friday 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 Cabinet ministers to 14, but said the prime minister can appoint up to three additional ministers 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 have fully agreed that politicians should respond to public demands (for administrative reforms) despite difficulties,” Takamori Makino from the LDP said, appearing at a joint news conference with Liberal Party legislator Eiichi Nakamura following their agreement on the issue.

The agreement will be reflected in an administrative reform outline to be approved by the Cabinet next Tuesday. A set of bills will be drawn up based on the outline.

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 in November.

While the LDP had resisted the Liberal Party’s proposal to cut the number of bureaucrats by 25 percent, it finally gave in to the Liberal Party’s demands. Nakamura told reporters that he is fully satisfied with the results.

The Liberal Party proposed during the discussions that the Defense Agency be upgraded to ministry status and that the two parties start discussions over the issue, he said.

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