The House of Representatives on Thursday voted down an opposition camp no-confidence motion against Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi and a Democratic Party of Japan bill to repeal recently enacted pension reform legislation.

Both the no-confidence motion and the bill, submitted at the Lower House plenary session, were seen as a political gesture by the DPJ, which expected them to be voted down by the ruling alliance of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

The motion, submitted by the DPJ, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, was voted down 279 to 185 by the majority coalition.

The DPJ called to scrap the unpopular pension reform legislation during last month’s election campaign for the House of Councilors, in which the party saw strong results.

DPJ Diet affairs chief Tatsuo Kawabata told reporters before the session that as health minister, Sakaguchi was responsible for going against the public will, and the pension reform legislation, which was found to contain 40 minor technical errors after enactment, should be scrapped.

He also charged that the government hid information relevant to the pension reforms, including a further decline in the nation’s birthrate, until after the legislation cleared the Diet in June.

The DPJ also blamed the Social Insurance Agency for a scandal in which a number of agency officials allegedly read personal pension records without permission.

“It cannot be tolerated that Sakaguchi will remain in office until a Cabinet reshuffle takes place in September,” DPJ lawmaker Banri Kaieda said in the plenary session.

LDP lawmaker Susumu Hasumi argued that the opposition was “playing party politics,” and it was “extremely unfair” to submit the no-confidence motion because the problems had already been dealt with, pointing to the punishment of agency officials involved and the minister’s apology at the last Diet session.

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