Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Wednesday that the Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party and New Komeito should consider campaign cooperation for the next Lower House elections to further cement their tripartite ties.

“If we can achieve a wide range of cooperation (by the three parties) for the elections, this is what I hope for,” Nonaka told a regular news conference.

Nonaka’s comment came one day after the three parties jointly supported a set of bills to cover the updated Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines in a Lower House vote.

The Liberal Party is the LDP’s junior coalition partner. Lower House passage of the guidelines bills with New Komeito’s support is seen to have moved the No. 2 opposition party closer to a de facto alliance with the coalition.

Nonaka said he joined an informal tripartite meeting of Diet affairs committee chiefs Tuesday night at which participants discussed cooperation by the parties for the next Lower House elections.

Some opined that cooperating in the elections will establish much closer relationships among the three parties and through such cooperation they may be able to find a way to resolve various problems of the current single-seat electoral district system, Nonaka said.

The LDP-Liberal bloc is short of a majority in the Upper House, requiring the alliance to seek New Komeito’s support in passing key legislation through the Diet.

New Komeito meanwhile is seeking coalition support to change the Lower House electoral system before the next elections are held.

The term of current Lower House members runs through October 2000, but speculation is widespread that Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi may dissolve the chamber and call a general election this year.

The current Lower House electoral system is a combination of single-seat constituencies and proportional representation. New Komeito hopes to change the single-seat system into a new system based on multiseat constituencies — similar to the one that was in place until 1994.

A single-seat system is believed to favor larger parties, and New Komeito, a medium-size opposition force, fears it may lose a substantial number of its Diet seats in the next elections.

Nonaka expressed understanding toward New Komeito’s argument that the current election system has various problems, adding that active debate over the issue in the Diet should be welcomed.

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