Japan PM, DPJ Secy Gen agree to set up panel

PM Hatoyama and DPJ Secy Gen agree to set up a policy research forum amid complaints that there are no places they can voice their opinions.

Updated: Mar 09, 2010, 16:02 PM IST

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.