• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori will make a comment in the near future about the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential race, which will choose his successor, LDP Secretary General Makoto Koga said Sunday.

In a speech in Akita, Koga said, “We cannot allow a continuation of instability in politics and the administration.”

Mori has agreed to move up the LDP presidential race from September to as early as April, paving the way for his resignation as the nation’s prime minister and head of the LDP. But when and how to hold the election has yet to be decided.

In a separate appearance in the town of Iitagawa in Akita Prefecture, Koga said he still hopes to see his former one-time faction boss Koichi Kato become prime minister.

Kato abstained on a no-confidence motion last November in a failed bid to oust Mori. He also abstained on another no-confidence motion March 5.

Koga said of Kato’s failed coup last November, “It’s still hard to understand and it is deplorable.” Kato’s action led some members of his faction, including Koga, to leave and form a new faction under Mitsuo Horiuchi, a former trade and industry minister.

But Koga added, “People talk about the Horiuchi and Kato factions, but we comrades are linked together at heart.”

Opposition attacks

Opposition lawmakers on Sunday attacked the ruling coalition’s emergency economic package as problematic and weak.

“There are many problems (in the package). I would give it 10 points or so (out of 100),” said Katsuya Okada, policy affairs chief of the Democratic Party of Japan, during a TV program Sunday morning.

The tripartite ruling coalition — the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — proposed earlier this month a set of policies to revitalize the nation’s economy, including the establishment of a share-buying fund. and other schemes aimed at boosting stock prices. The government is now working on specific measures in line with the package.

Referring to measures to cope with falling stock prices, Okada said, “It is undermining market confidence by signaling that share prices can be propped up politically.”

Specifically on the proposed stock-buying fund, which would extend the government guarantee for a private-sector fund to buy cross-held shares from ailing financial institutions, he said, “This is a system which would allow banks to share profits . . . and force taxpayers to shoulder the burden where any losses are incurred. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Kiyomi Tsujimoto, policy affairs chief of the Social Democratic Party, also criticized the ruling parties’ package as being superficial.

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