The government will do its utmost to pass the controversial bill for reducing Lower House seats during the upcoming ordinary Diet session, Chief Cabinet Secretary Mikio Aoki said Thursday.Aoki’s remarks followed the renewal of an agreement reached Wednesday night between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Liberal Party to cut 20 proportional representation seats from the Lower House. Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa announced that his party will remain with the coalition now that the agreement has been reached, taking back his earlier threat to pull out. “We want to again trust in the good will and sincerity (of our coalition partners) to realize the agreement,” Ozawa told a news conference. Said Aoki: “Efforts must be made to keep the promise (with the Liberal Party). If we receive a request from the LDP to achieve that end, we are of course ready to cooperate.” He also noted that the first priority in the upcoming Diet session, to be convened in January, is to pass the fiscal 2000 budget as quickly as possible, suggesting that deliberations on the seat-cutting bill should not influence the budget proceedings. When asked about the Liberal Party’s call for an earlier start of the session, he said, “I don’t know the details of the request but I believe that’s a subject for future discussion.” “Frankly speaking, I think it’s good,” Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said about the Liberal Party’s decision to stay with the coalition. “What’s most important for the coalition is to stay together and cooperate to formulate the fiscal 2000 budget. And we’ve fulfilled that task.”

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