• Kyodo News


A senior member of New Komeito threw another hurdle at Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s effort to steer bills related to the fiscal 2011 budget through a divided Diet on Sunday by saying his small opposition party is reluctant to support the legislation.

“Given that we are voting against the budget itself, it is hard to back the related bills. This is the atmosphere that prevails in our party,” Yoshio Urushibara, chief of New Komeito’s Diet affairs committee, said during a Fuji Television program.

Urushibara also hinted his party may oppose a new bill on child allowances as well. The bill is intended to succeed the existing temporary law, which only covers payments for fiscal 2010 ending March 31.

“When we upheld the bill last time, we did so on condition that the government secures an environment for child-raising assistance and fiscal resources to permanently cover the measures. We waited a year but that hasn’t happened,” he said.

Urushibara’s remarks come as Kan’s Democratic Party of Japan-led ruling bloc seeks New Komeito’s support to push the budget-related bills through the House of Representatives by a second vote that would push it through even if the opposition-dominated House of Councilors rejects them.

The Lower House holds sway in passing the budget. But if the Upper House rejects the related bills necessary to put the budget into force, Kan would need New Komeito’s Lower House numbers to create the two-thirds majority needed for their enactment.

Shimoji dissents

A senior ruling coalition lawmaker has said Prime Minister Naoto Kan should step down if the fiscal 2011 budget fails to clear the Diet by April 1.

The comment by Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) Secretary General Mikio Shimoji could prove provocative, given there is no guarantee that all of the budget bills will pass in a divided legislature where the opposition controls the Upper House.

The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Kan’s Democratic Party of Japan, holds sway over the opposition-dominated House of Councilors in passing the budget, but not the other budget-related bills that must also be cleared to put the budget in force.

“If the prime minister cannot succeed in having the budget cleared by March, he should naturally quit,” Shimoji said Saturday at a meeting of his party’s chapter in the city of Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.

He also suggested that the DPJ-Kokumin Shinto coalition seek the return of the Social Democratic Party, which left the bloc last May over policy differences, to improve the chances of getting budget-related legislation passed.

If the SDP rejoins, the coalition will regain its two-thirds majority in the Lower House, allowing it to enact legislation rejected by the Upper House.

Meanwhile, national policy minister Koichiro Genba hinted the same day that the ruling camp might consult the opposition over revising the fiscal 2011 budget and related bills it submitted to the Diet.

“We must create the momentum for talks” between the ruling and opposition parties, he told reporters in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, referring to the absence of four opposition parties — including the conservative Liberal Democratic Party — from deliberations that began Friday in the Lower House Budget Committee.

The opposition parties have criticized the DPJ for scheduling the start of the deliberations without their agreement, at a meeting of budget committee executives Thursday.

Other DPJ lawmakers, including Secretary General Katsuya Okada, leveled criticism at or called for cooperation from the opposition parties after they boycotted the budget deliberations.

“They had no major reasons for not attending (the meeting) from the outset,” Okada said in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, indicating the DPJ would go ahead with deliberations Monday anyway.

Also Saturday, Yoshimi Watanabe, head of Your Party, which is among the other small opposition parties absent from the deliberations, vowed to “do our utmost to force the Kan Cabinet to resign and dissolve the Lower House for a general election during this Diet session” through June.

In Tokyo at its first party congress since its founding in summer 2009, the party accused the Kan government of “trying to extend its life by sharing a tax-increase policy line with the LDP,” and vowed to prevent a consumption tax hike.

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