• Kyodo

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Makoto Koga, an influential Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, openly criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Saturday for appointing a reform-minded writer to a road-related privatization task force.

The writer, Naoki Inose, wants a temporary freeze on highway construction. His ideas are unacceptable, however, to some LDP lawmakers who are backed by constituencies dependent on the road-construction industry.

“All I want to say about his choice of panel members is that it was again influenced by his desire to be popular,” said Koga, a former LDP secretary general, during a speech in Nagoya.

“I’m concerned that the appointed members include someone who can be called a destroyer rather than a reformist.”

Inose, a prize-winning nonfiction writer, was among the seven people Koizumi appointed Friday to a new panel commissioned to discuss how the planned privatization of four public entities should be carried out.

“The prime minister said he made the appointments at the risk of his life,” Koga said. “But that’s not something you should stake your life on. He should stake his life on deciding which course Japan should select in the 21st century.”

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