• Kyodo


Democratic Party of Japan leader Banri Kaieda remained circumspect Saturday over joining forces with Diet veteran — and former DPJ chief — Ichiro Ozawa’s newly created Seikatsu no To (Lifestyle Party) prior to the Upper House election this summer.

“I have never said that I will cooperate with Ozawa,” Kaieda said on a TV program aired by Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc.

“We can’t afford to lose even one of our 57 lawmakers in the Lower House,” he said, apparently referring to lingering hostility in his party’s ranks toward Ozawa and his followers, who abandoned the then-ruling DPJ en masse last year in opposition to its planned sales tax hike.

“But it is inevitable for the opposition bloc to cooperate so as to prevent the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition from winning a majority” in the House of Councilors, Kaieda added.

Kaieda was appointed DPJ president late last month after former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stepped down as party leader to take responsibility for its humiliating defeat in the Dec. 16 Lower House election.

Minister positive on help


Newly appointed land minister Akihiro Ota voiced his determination Saturday to rebuild areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“I will do what I can do to the utmost extent,” the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister said during his meeting with Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai at the prefectural offices.

It was Ota’s first meeting with any of the three governors in the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima since the launch of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet late last month.

Afterward, Murai said he could confirm the new government’s commitment to rebuilding the Tohoku region’s shattered coastal communities. Ota told reporters that it is necessary to rapidly promote the construction of public housing for evacuees “so they can lead their lives at ease.”

According to the National Police Agency, the natural disasters claimed the lives of 15,879 people and left 2,712 unaccounted for as of Dec. 26.

Murai later met with economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari and called on the government to improve employment conditions in Tohoku, particularly in tsunami-hit areas. Amari said the government will make efforts to promote the region’s recovery by listening to local demands when compiling the supplementary budget.