DPJ, LDP explore possibility of grand coalition
Japan's ruling and opposition parties are clashing over when Prime Minister Naoto Kan will step down. At the same time, they are exploring the possibility of a grand coalition.
The current session of the Diet will end on June 22nd. But it remains unclear if the Diet will pass a second supplementary budget and a bill to allow the government to issue debt-covering bonds.
The Secretary General of the ruling Democratic Party, Katsuya Okada, said on Sunday that he favors a grand coalition of the governing and opposition parties for a limited period of time. Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said the political stalemate caused by the opposition-dominated Upper House should be ended so that Japan can focus on reconstruction. He said a grand coalition is the way to go.
The Secretary General of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Nobuteru Ishihara, said the party would consider the possibility of a grand coalition more positively once the timing of the Lower House dissolution and a general election become clear.
The Democratic Party's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshito Sengoku, has met with Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Tadamori Oshima several times to exchange views on the possibility.
On Sunday, Kan told Democratic Party executives that he wants to bring disaster-related problems under control before he steps down. He and party executives confirmed they will do all they can to get the 2 key bills passed during the current session of the Diet. Kan also met Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office Yukihito Akutsu and other allies.
After the meeting, Akutsu told reporters that Kan spoke about his dreams, including reforming the nation's tax system and social security system at the same time.
Some members of the government and the Democratic Party say Kan will leave office some time this summer. But Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said a new leader must be selected with the participation of party members and supporters, so the timing of Kan's departure will be after September 1st. Opposition parties are demanding an earlier departure, saying that a new leader must be in charge of reconstruction.
LDP Secretary General Ishihara said that unless Kan resigns, his party will not cooperate on the passage of the bills to approve debt-covering bonds and the supplementary budget. Some Democratic Party members say the timing of Kan's departure may be earlier than expected.
Monday, June 06, 2011 07:37 +0900 (JST)