Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi admitted Thursday that his government may not be able to submit legislation designed to create a government body to buy banks’ shareholdings before the end of the current Diet session on June 29.
“It is true that it will be difficult to propose legislation to establish the Bank Equity Purchasing Corp. during the current Diet session,” Koizumi told the Upper House plenary session.
His comment confirmed what key members of his government, including Hakuo Yanagisawa, minister in charge of financial affairs, had announced previously.
The proposal for the government-backed, share-purchasing body was part of a package of emergency economic measures the government adopted April 6 to reassure the markets that it was doing something about the faltering economy.
The package, however, failed to specify how soon the body would be created.
The proposed body would help absorb high levels of stockholdings Japanese banks have in other businesses. Most of these holdings will have to be sold because the agreement calls for banks to limit the value of their total stockholdings to the level of their capital or even lower.
During Thursday’s Diet session, during which lawmakers continued to question Koizumi over the policy speech he made Monday, he dismissed the notion that his reform initiative has been toned down since he took office April 26.
“My policy speech covered everything that I promised during my campaign,” Koizumi said, answering a question from Kenji Katsuki of the Democratic Party of Japan.
Koizumi emphasized that he included some of his pet ideas in Monday’s speech, including the introduction of a popular vote for the prime minister and the privatization of state-run postal services, despite them being “minority opinions” in the legislature.
“I proudly boast that no previous prime minister has made such clear-cut, concrete remarks in his policy speech as I have,” Koizumi added, straying from the prepared text.
Countering criticism that he has been short on policy details, Koizumi asked the audience to allow him more time to come up with specifics.
“I have just taken office. Please do not rush and, instead, give me some more time,” Koizumi ad-libbed, prompting laughter from the Upper House members.
The popular new leader, whose public approval ratings have topped 80 percent, also claimed he will “not act arbitrarily,” promising to listen to a wide variety of opinions from the public and experts on issues, including the Constitution and the proposed system to directly elect the prime minister.
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