The Liberal Party has to work harder to structurally reform society now that it is a governing partner of the Liberal Democratic Party, Ichiro Ozawa, head of the Liberal Party, said Monday.

“As it stands now, Japan is on its way to a fast decline,” Ozawa said during the party’s national convention. “The coalition government of the LDP and the Liberal Party is a means to halt that decline.”

Ozawa emphasized the importance of structural reforms to correct what he calls “ambiguity” in various systems of a society that resulted from the LDP’s 38-year reign.

Speaking at the convention held at a Tokyo hotel, Ozawa reaffirmed the significance of the party’s goals — to bring about reforms and to create a new and sound kind of politics by conservatives.

To achieve economic recovery, Japan has to take such measures as boosting domestic demand along with resolving its structural problems, he said.

It was the second party convention for the Liberal Party, which was formed in January 1998 following the previous month’s dissolution of Shinshinto, then the largest opposition party and also headed by Ozawa. It also marks the first convention since the party joined with the LDP.

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, invited as a guest speaker, stressed the coalition government’s results since January. He cited Diet passage of important bills, including those related to the fiscal 1999 budget and the new Japan-U.S. defense guidelines. “I hope the two parties will bravely work on structural reforms in Japan,” he said.

The Liberal Party, a junior coalition partner of the LDP since January, has 39 seats in the 500-seat lower chamber and 12 in the 252-seat upper chamber of the Diet.

In his speech, Ozawa said his party will put forward a discussion on the Constitution, saying Japan has a crucial flaw in how it deals with the document. “That is, we have made no attempt to consider the procedure for constitutional revision in more than 50 years,” he said.

Ozawa said both opponents and advocates of a constitutional revision have discussed the issue on the premise of an unspoken agreement that they cannot revise it. “This is a situation that symbolizes the unclear politics made during the LDP monopoly,” he said.

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