Japan PM, DPJ Secy Gen agree to set up panel
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 16:02
Tokyo: Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa has agreed to set up a policy research forum amid complaints from rank-and-file DPJ members that there are no places they can voice their opinions.

The agreement reached yesterday effectively indicates a turnaround from the Hatoyama government's pledge to unify the policymaking process within the Cabinet.

"I have no intention of changing our framework under which the government will make decisions," Hatoyama said.

In their talks, Hatoyama, the DPJ leader and Ozawa also agreed that they will together launch a panel to formulate a campaign manifesto for the House of Councillors elections, expected to be held in early July.

The DPJ's policy research committee was scrapped in tandem with the launch of the Cabinet last September as the DPJ pledged during its campaign for the previous month's general election that all policymaking power be transferred to the government.

Under the previous Liberal Democratic Party-led government, the Cabinet approved bills only after endorsement by the party's policy research council, believed to have led to collusive relations between LDP lawmakers and bureaucrats.

With the aim of reflecting the views of the ruling parties, the DPJ-led government set up policy meetings between lawmakers holding senior posts at each ministry and agency and ruling bloc lawmakers.

Japan PM seeking breakthrough to tackle plummeting support

Premier Yukio Hatoyama has said a breakthrough is needed to counteract the declining support for his Cabinet ahead of the House of Councillors election. Hatoyama, who faces sharp criticism from the opposition parties for scandals involving himself and other members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said yesterday he is not thinking about a Cabinet reshuffle at this time.

"I need to face people's criticism upfront and think about a breakthrough plan," he said, suggesting the government needs to do more than formulate and implement policy.

"It's important as a basis to clear budget and realize each and every policy shown in our manifesto (for last general election), but we will not stop there," he said.

Opposition parties have called on Hatoyama and his party to face more squarely questions of money and politics, which have fuelled people's mistrust of his government and helped lower the support rates for the Hatoyama Cabinet.

Meanwhile, DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, the person in charge of the DPJ's election strategy who is taking the heat for his own political funds problems, has said the poor results in opinion polls cannot be tied to upcoming elections.

"I have viewed the upper house election with a different dimension," Ozawa said in Yamagata yesterday, adding "We will make efforts with the conviction that if we all join our efforts, we can secure an absolute majority."

A Kyodo survey has showed the Cabinet's approval rate has fallen to 36.3 per cent and 58.6 per cent do not believe it would be desirable for the DPJ to control the Upper House on its own.


First Published: Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 16:02

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