National

Opposition to wage fresh war on pension reforms

Opposition parties have renewed their offensive against the recently enacted pension reform legislation, demanding Thursday that the government correct the 40 typographical and other minor errors in the package when the extra Diet session convenes at month’s end.

The Diet affairs chiefs of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party agreed at a meeting to demand that the government submit amendments to the extra Diet session.

They later asked House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono to meet this demand.

The government has said it plans to post a notice of the errors in the official government gazette, instead of amending the legislation.

Past government corrections to legislation have also been addressed by way of notices in official gazettes.

But this approach is unprecedented for 40 mistakes of this kind, DPJ Diet affairs chief Tatsuo Kawabata told a news conference in the morning.

Kawabata added that the DPJ is planning separately to submit a bill to the Diet to scrap the pension reform legislation, which was sponsored by the government and the ruling coalition, as soon as the extraordinary session starts.

The opposition parties also demanded that the session take at least one month to deliberate pension issues as well as the incorporation of the Self-Defense Forces units in Iraq into the U.S.-led multinational force in the country.

The move was decided by the ruling bloc without Diet debate.

The opposition camp also agreed Thursday to take up other issues in the coming session, including a political donation scam involving the Japan Dental Association, a possible change in mad cow disease testing and North Korean issues.

North Korean issues should be discussed in the wake of the recent arrival of Charles Jenkins, the American husband of repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga, Kawabata added.

The ruling bloc — comprising the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito — is planning to have the extraordinary Diet session run for just two weeks.

DPJ wants solo win

Democratic Party of Japan President Katsuya Okada on Thursday said he is determined that the DPJ will come to power without forming an alliance with New Komeito.

Okada’s remarks are a clear change of direction for the DPJ, which has never before publicly ruled out the possibility of teaming up with New Komeito, a pivotal political party that is currently the junior partner to the Liberal Democratic Party in the ruling coalition.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Okada called the outcome of the July 11 House of Councilors election “the first step” in his party’s path to power. In the race, the DPJ not only won more seats than the LDP, but had neck-and-neck races with the ruling coalition in 27 single-seat constituencies in rural areas, which have traditionally been strongholds for the LDP.

“There may have been some districts where New Komeito did not actively support LDP candidates, but I don’t think (New Komeito) backed any DPJ candidates,” Okada said. “Our goal is to command a (Diet) majority by ourselves.

The DPJ “gained 40 seats in (November’s) general election, and I believe it’s possible to gain 70 more on its own on top of the 180 we currently hold.”

Okada flatly denied the possibility of his party being involved in any political realignment for the time being, saying he does “not consider a change of regime until after the next general election, for it wouldn’t be good for voters to see a realignment of the (present) ruling coalition in between elections.”

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