Yoshitada Konoike, former state minister for disaster management who voted against the postal privatization bills in August, on Friday told the Liberal Democratic Party, to which he belongs, that he would support resubmission of the bills if the LDP-New Komeito coalition wins a majority in Sunday’s election.
“Public opinion is important,” Konoike told reporters Friday morning, indicating that if the LDP and its ally New Komeito win a majority in the House of Representatives election, he would see it as the public’s support for the privatization of Japan Post.
Konoike’s change of heart might influence other rebels to support Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s privatization plan. He played a leading role in the group of 30 LDP lawmakers who caused the postal bills to be defeated by either voting against them or not voting at all on Aug. 8 in the House of Councilors.
But resistance remains strong among some dissident LDP lawmakers, including the former education minister, Hirofumi Nakasone.
Konoike conveyed his intentions to Mikio Aoki, head of the LDP caucus in the Upper House, at the Diet. Aoki said he welcomed Konoike’s decision.
After the meeting, Konoike told reporters, “There are lots of things that must be dealt with in politics, and this confusion should not continue,” referring to the division within the party.
The postal privatization bills, the centerpiece of Koizumi’s reform agenda, were voted down in an Upper House vote, with 22 LDP lawmakers voting against them and eight others abstaining or absent. Koizumi called the election for Sunday the same day.
The government is expected to amend the bills if they are resubmitted to the Diet.
A senior member of the faction formerly headed by Shizuka Kamei, who left the LDP after opposing the bills to help found Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), said it was too early to say whether opponents to the bills would be swayed by Konoike’s move.
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