Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi caused a stir in the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Thursday by claiming his breaches of three key policy pledges were “no big deal.”
The three broken promises, as pointed out by Democratic Party of Japan leader Naoto Kan, were to:
Keep new government bond issuances below 30 trillion yen per year.
Abolish blanket protection of bank deposits beginning April 1.
Visit Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of World War II.
“As prime minister, a person must think about things of greater importance,” Koizumi said during the televised debate. “In dealing with the bigger issues, it’s no big deal to have been unable to keep pledges of this level of importance.”
The 30 trillion yen ceiling on bond issuances was a key policy flag for Koizumi’s Cabinet, but the prime minister was forced to compromise when faced with dwindling tax revenues amid the ongoing economic slump and ruling lawmakers’ calls for more pump-priming measures.
Kan said Koizumi’s promises can no longer be taken seriously.
On other issues, Koizumi refrained from detailing Japan’s response to a possible military attack on Iraq, saying his government should wait to see if Iraq fully and unconditionally accepts United Nations inspections and their findings.
Koizumi did not comment on the issue of introducing inflation targets, a focus of heated economic debate in recent weeks, saying only that the government and the Bank of Japan should work together to push up inflation to “more than zero percent.”
“To change the (inflation rate) to more than zero percent, the government and the Bank of Japan should study (policies) in unison,” he said, responding to a question from Keiichi Ishii, a Lower House member from New Komeito, a ruling coalition partner.
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