The House of Councilors voted down a censure motion Wednesday against Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka, who has been taking heat for injecting nearly 2 trillion yen in public funds into an ailing banking group and failing to pull the economy out of its decade-old slump.
The motion was rejected by a vote of 137 to 100.
The ruling triumvirate of the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and New Conservative Party voted against the motion, while four opposition parties — the Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Party, Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party — supported it.
Two LDP members — Shin Sakurai and Hirohide Uozumi — left their seats shortly before the voting started and abstained, apparently in a gesture of support for the censure motion.
The two Upper House members belong to an LDP faction jointly led by Takami Eto and Shizuka Kamei, who are among the most vocal LDP lawmakers against Takenaka’s economic policies.
Though the ruling coalition voted down the motion to defend Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet, many LDP lawmakers have openly called outside the Diet for Takenaka’s immediate resignation.
After the voting ended, Takenaka did not look happy. He refused to answer question from reporters, no doubt fearing any remarks he makes in his current shaky position could draw flak from the ruling coalition.
Mikio Aoki, Upper House secretary general of LDP members, has repeatedly called on Koizumi to sack Takenaka if the prime minister is re-elected LDP president in September.
Takenaka is known as an advocate of austere fiscal policy, quick disposal of bad loans and strict government inspections of banks’ lending practices. His opponents fear such a drastic policy would mean a death knell for many small firms, which depend heavily on bank loans.