Japan PM considering cabinet reshuffle: Report

Japan`s PM Naoto Kan tries to woo a tiny opposition party into the coalition.

Tokyo: Japan`s Prime Minister Naoto Kan is leaning toward a cabinet reshuffle before a Parliament session next month as he tries to woo a tiny opposition party into the coalition, the Nikkei daily reported on Saturday.

The Premier has offered cabinet posts to the Sunrise Party of Japan, which has six members of Parliament including former finance minister Kaoru Yosano, a fiscal hawk, and former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, an outspoken nationalist, the business daily said.

Kan`s ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is hoping to win the support of minor opposition parties to pass budget-related and other legislation in Parliament, where the opposition controls the upper house and can block bills.

Kan called for the Sunrise Party to join the coalition when he met Yosano, one of the co-presidents of the party, in November and again this month, the Nikkei said.

But even with the Sunrise Party`s help, that would not be enough to give the ruling coalition a majority in the upper house, nor a two-thirds majority needed in the lower house to override decisions made in the upper house.

The outlook for passing bills is also complicated by the refusal of DPJ powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa to appear at a parliamentary ethics panel over a funding scandal that has helped slash government support to just over 20 percent.

Kan and Ozawa met on Saturday but there was no breakthrough on the issue, Kyodo news agency reported. Kan has joined opposition parties in demanding that Ozawa appear before the panel.

If the cabinet were to be reshuffled, Kan would have difficulty deciding what to do with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, a top aide who has been censured for his handling of a collision between a Chinese trawler and Japanese patrol boats near disputed waters in September, the Nikkei said.

Bureau Report