• Kyodo News


The government will redefine the role of the National Policy Unit, set up after the change of power last year in an attempt to strengthen policymaking functions, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku.

Sengoku said at a news conference Thursday that the unit should return to its basic focus on formulating medium- to long-term national strategies, instead of busying itself with making day-to-day political arrangements.

The unit was created after the Democratic Party of Japan swept to power last summer to lay out a broad vision for state budgets and other key national policies.

The DPJ hoped to use the unit to demonstrate that it possessed a greater capacity than past Liberal Democratic Party governments to formulate important policies with its own political leadership, depending less on the powerful bureaucracy.

But the role of the unit has not been clear enough. Some DPJ lawmakers said this week the state minister in charge of it, Satoshi Arai, will not play an important role in formulating the state budget for fiscal 2011.

The basic budgetary framework will be discussed mainly by Sengoku, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and DPJ policy chief Koichiro Gemba.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who assumed office in June, resurrected the DPJ’s Policy Research Committee, chaired by Gemba, to facilitate communication between the Cabinet and the ruling party.

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