• Kyodo News


Ministers were divided Friday on whether the Democratic Party of Japan should form a grand coalition government with the Liberal Democratic Party to address the March 11 earthquake-tsunami disaster and nuclear crisis.

The LDP, which initially rejected the idea after being sounded out by the DPJ shortly after the quake, is now reconsidering, party members said.

Farm minister Michihiko Kano expressed support for the idea, telling reporters he personally believes such a government can be tolerated in light of the critical situation facing the nation.

“What is most important is to clearly tell the public why a grand coalition will be formed,” Kano told a news conference.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa appeared cautious about the idea, however, saying that while it is “natural for both sides to think together on ways to overcome the crisis, forming a grand coalition for political purposes would not be able to gain public understanding.”

Government revitalization minister Renho stressed that working on reconstruction efforts must take precedence over other matters, including exploring the possibility of a coalition, saying, “We must first think what we lawmakers can possibly do now.”

Before the quake, the LDP was pushing for Prime Minister Naoto Kan to dissolve the Lower House and call a general election. The party had ruled Japan for decades until the DPJ knocked it out of power in 2009.

On March 19, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki rejected the proposal by Kan to join the government, but members said they are reconsidering the offer at the urging of some supporters and following consultations with LDP bigwigs who have previously served as prime ministers, including Yoshiro Mori and Shinzo Abe.

Some DPJ lawmakers reportedly continued to ask LDP members to form the grand coalition after Tanigaki rejected Kan’s invitation.

“There are many opinions within the party,” Tanigaki said in a news conference Thursday. “We are considering it from various points.”

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