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The present three-way coalition government led by the Liberal Democratic Party will be maintained beyond the July 29 Upper House election, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday.

Koizumi confirmed this position to the leaders of New Komeito and the New Conservative Party, who gathered at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence to discuss policy issues ahead of Koizumi’s trip to the United States, Britain and France this weekend.

“It is just natural for us to keep (the alliance). . . . Here, I would like to clarify that once again,” NCP chief Chikage Ogi quoted Koizumi as telling the tripartite gathering.

Despite claiming he has no intention of ending the current coalition framework, Koizumi has previously urged opposition parties to join his government if they are willing to support his reform initiatives. This stance subsequently left the LDP’s coalition allies uneasy over the ruling camp’s solidarity and framework beyond the July election.

The LDP now has 239 seats in the 480-member Lower House and has 107 seats in the 252-member Upper House.

During Thursday’s meeting, New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki urged the prime minister to “patiently persuade” U.S. President George W. Bush to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which is aimed at restricting carbon dioxide emissions.

Kanzaki told reporters that he also advised Koizumi to push for a reduction in the number of U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa and to remain cautious regarding the missile defense system proposed by the U.S.

Koizumi listened without making any specific comments in response, he added.

Ogi meanwhile suggested that Koizumi should stress that Japan is now going through a period of change.

“I asked him to convey to the U.S. that, since the start of the Koizumi Cabinet, Japan is changing and people are more interested in politics, and thus in the Japan-U.S. relationship,” she said.

Koizumi replied that he hopes to build a relationship of mutual trust between Tokyo and Washington during his visit, according to Ogi.

Regarding the economy, Ogi asked Koizumi to dispel Washington’s concerns by stressing Tokyo’s commitment toward disposing bad loans held by the nation’s banks within three years.

Kanzaki meanwhile suggested that Koizumi should assure Washington that his reform plans will not lead to negative economic growth.

Extra session Aug. 7

The secretaries general and Diet affairs committee heads of the ruling coalition parties said Thursday that an extraordinary Diet session will be held from Aug. 7 to Aug. 10, following next month’s House of Councilors election, party officials said.

The decision by the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and New Conservative Party will be officially approved at an Aug. 3 Cabinet meeting, the officials said.

At the extraordinary Diet session, a number of personnel appointments will be made, including the chairman and heads of committees of the Upper House. The senior officials also confirmed they will cooperate to convene an extraordinary Diet session in the fall, they said.

The senior officials also agreed to promote discussions within each party on the possibility of building a nonsectarian national war cemetery to replace Yasukuni Shrine as Japan’s war memorial, they said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the LDP president, said his government will consider building such a war cemetery, while reiterating that he will visit Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

The Shinto shrine is dedicated to Japanese who have died in wars since the mid-19th century. It also honors seven hanged war criminals. Visits there by public figures have been criticized by Japan’s Asian neighbors who suffered at the hands of Japanese troops.

With regard to plans for such a war cemetery, the officials quoted New Komeito Secretary General Tetsuzo Fuyushiba as saying, “A facility is needed where foreign heads of state visiting Japan can comfortably pay their respects without religious concerns.”

LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki was quoted as saying, “We will raise the issue for debate within the party.”

The secretaries general also exchanged opinions on their scheduled four-day trip to China and South Korea from July 8, they said.

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