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Opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama lashed out Monday against Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s latest catchword “e-Japan,” telling Mori at a Diet question-and-answer session that the public has no idea what the term means.

“I heard the prime minister parroting the term ‘IT’ 22 times during his (Friday) policy speech. But how many of the people can really envisage the future of Japan by hearing his ‘e-Japan’ pitch?” Hatoyama, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, asked a Lower House plenary session. “I, for one, couldn’t see any picture at all.”

Mori only countered by reading out a prepared text in which he said his administration will boldly address the information technology issue by taking into account discussions of an IT advisory committee.

During his opening speech at the new Diet session Friday, Mori pledged to create an “e-Japan,” where every citizen will be able to share and exchange digital information through inexpensive, high-speed Internet connections. The prime minister also promised to make Japan the world’s most advanced IT power in five years.

“In the field of information technology, Japan is an undeveloped nation that lags far behind European nations, the U.S. and Asian countries. . . . The fate of Japan’s IT revolution hinges on what the government will do within a year,” Hatoyama said, criticizing Mori’s “optimistic five-year plan prepared by the bureaucrats.”

Hatoyama also insisted the government take steps to reform the existing public education system instead of trying to force upon children the sense of morality held by old politicians.

“What is needed for educational reform is not an old spiritualism . . . based on the nation’s prewar education principles,” Hatoyama said. Mori is considered an advocate of reintroducing old Japanese values into the public education system.

Mori countered by saying the state is making efforts to give local governments more autonomy in education. On the economy, Hatoyama claimed the government’s plan for a supplementary budget, which would require spending an extra 4 trillion yen, is not necessary.

“As long as it increases the fiscal deficit and keeps the economy weak, the budget will only lead to the loss of international credit for the Japanese economy,” Hatoyama said, calling for more deregulation and fiscal reconsolidation measures.

Mori repeated the government’s position that the budget will be necessary to give one more push to the nation’s stagnant economy.

Touching on security issues, Hatoyama insisted Japan’s contribution to world peace and security not be restricted by the Constitution.

Hatoyama urged Mori to have clearer views on the security role Japan should bear in debating whether to amend the postwar charter. Mori said only he will closely watch the discussions at Diet committees tasked with considering a review of the Constitution.

The DPJ leader lashed out against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s “servile and subordinate” attitude toward the United States, saying the Japan-U.S. relationship the DPJ envisions is an “alliance founded upon each other’s independence.”

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