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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday made clear that his Cabinet will not address in the foreseeable future the proposed relocation of the nation’s capital functions outside of Tokyo.

“As prime minister, I do not think it is an issue that should be put on the real political agenda,” Koizumi told a House of Councilors Committee on the Cabinet.

The relocation of the capital, even if possible, is a matter for the distant future, Koizumi said in response to a question from an opposition Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker.

However, Koizumi, who termed himself a longtime proponent of relocation, said the government should monitor Diet debate on the issue.

“I don’t think it is too late to judge after watching the course of Diet discussions,” he said.

On May 30, the ruling and opposition camps gave up on choosing a new capital site from three candidates. A House of Representatives panel tasked with scrutinizing the relocation issue also decided to delay a decision on a relocation site.

The proposal to relocate capital functions out of Tokyo gained momentum at the height of the bubble economy of the late 1980s, when land prices were skyrocketing.

But public interest rapidly dwindled once the nation became mired in the economic doldrums of the 1990s. The cost of relocating the capital — estimated by a government advisory panel to be 2.3 trillion yen over 10 years — is also seen as a major problem in light of mounting public debts.

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