New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki said Friday his party will stay the course and fully back the Liberal Democratic Party in the Sept. 11 general election because of its stance on reform.
“The election will be (held) to ask voters about the justifiability of postal privatization and whether to support reform or retreat,” Kanzaki said in an interview.
“New Komeito has spearheaded a reform drive in the past six years since joining the coalition, and postal privatization is symbolic (of that).”
The leader of the LDP’s junior coalition partner also ruled out forming a coalition with the Democratic Party of Japan, even if the nation’s largest opposition force defeats the LDP and needs its help to win a majority.
“It cannot happen realistically,” Kanzaki said. “If the coalition fails to win a majority and the LDP falls from power, we’d lose power as well.”
New Komeito will not back startup Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) either, Kanzaki said. Members of the new force pose a threat to LDP candidates in single-seat constituencies and New Komeito candidates in proportional representation blocs, he said. The party was launched earlier this week by foes of the postal privatization bills.
In addition, LDP members who voted against the postal privatization bills and are running as independents will not be endorsed by New Komeito, Kanzaki said. However, local chapters might be allowed to support such members in constituencies where they have deep ties.
Kanzaki said New Komeito aims to retain its 34 seats, but its priority is to ensure the coalition keeps a majority.
Of the 34 seats, nine were elected from single-seat constituencies and 25 from proportional representation blocs.
As of Friday, New Komeito had fielded nine candidates in single-seat constituencies and 43 in proportional representation blocs. It has also endorsed 74 other candidates running on the LDP ticket in single-seat constituencies.
In the 2003 general election, New Komeito endorsed 198 LDP candidates, who in turn asked voters to back New Komeito candidates in proportional representation.
“Regardless of whether we lose seats, the coalition can be maintained as long as the LDP-New Komeito alliance retains a majority,” he said.
To this end, Kanzaki said his party should do its best to back LDP candidates who favor postal privatization and may endorse more LDP candidates than it ever has for single-seat constituencies.
If the LDP-New Komeito alliance fails to retain a majority and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi steps down as promised, the onus will be on the LDP to form a new coalition with other lawmakers, he said.
Kanzaki said “there’s enough possibility” for the postal privatization bills to be reintroduced in the extraordinary Diet session that will follow the general election.
He also predicted the Upper House would keep the will of the voters in mind if the ruling bloc wins a majority.
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