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The chances of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government’s plan to provide child allowances in fiscal 2011 clearing the Diet decreased Thursday, as the Japanese Communist Party joined a move to vote the related bill down.

JCP leader Kazuo Shii said the small opposition party will not support the bill, which would enable the provision of monthly child-rearing benefits, noting it considers problematic raising funds for the allowances by “increasing some of the taxes for ordinary people.”

Other opposition parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, have already confirmed they will oppose the bill in the ongoing Diet session.

With the latest decision by the JCP, the bill is set to be rejected in the Upper House.

The government is seeking to secure a two-thirds majority in the more powerful Lower House to override the rejection. But it remains uncertain as Prime Minister Naoto Kan is finding it difficult to secure the cooperation of the Social Democratic Party, a tiny opposition party whose members’ votes are vital for achieving the majority.

Kan’s administration, which has been rapidly losing popularity in recent weeks, will suffer a serious blow if it fails to pass the bill.

Providing ¥26,000 in monthly allowances for each child of junior high school age or younger was one of the key pledges of the DPJ during the August 2009 general election, in which the party took power.

But the DPJ granted only ¥13,000 in fiscal 2010 due to a lack of funds.

The bill submitted to the Diet session would raise the benefits to ¥20,000 for children under 3 and continue to provide ¥13,000 for each child under 15 in the fiscal year starting in April.

Cabinet support sags

JIJI The public approval rating for Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Cabinet dropped to 17.8 percent in February, the lowest level since the Democratic Party of Japan took power in September 2009, an opinion poll revealed Thursday.

The figure was down 3.5 percentage points from the previous month, and was the first reading below 20 percent since Kan took office last June.

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