The Executive Council of the Liberal Democratic Party approved the government’s reform program Friday, party officials said.

But some members of the party’s decision-making panel expressed bewilderment at the program, which was unveiled the day before by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and features a sweeping review of public works projects and disposal of nonperforming loans.

The critics, including former Secretary General Hiromu Nonaka, said it will be difficult to compile the fiscal 2002 budget if they follow the program’s basic policies to the letter.

LDP policy chief Taro Aso replied that the party will discuss with the government how to bridge the policy gap before drafting an outline for next year’s budget in November.

“I see some differences between the reform program and the LDP’s policies, but I expect you to approve it as it shows how Japanese society should be in the 21st century,” he told council members.

Prior to the council meeting, the LDP held a meeting of its Policy Research Commission, whose members also expressed opposition to the program.

The sweeping reform program aims to put the nation’s loan-crippled economy in order in two to three years with painful overhauls that could impair economic growth.

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