26 October 2001, 10:12  Takenaka gives 70-80% mark to Koizumi's reform initiatives

TOKYO, Oct. 26 (Kyodo) - Economic and fiscal policy minister Heizo Takenaka said Friday he would give a 70-80% mark to the reform initiatives of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during his first six months in office. "When it comes to reforms, I would give 70% to 80%," Takenaka told a regular news conference. He said the Koizumi cabinet is trying hard to push the huge central bureaucratic machinery toward reforms but is also facing major challenges for its reform agenda ahead. "The success of reforms will depend largely on whether we can overcome those challenges," Takenaka said. He also said it is too early to discuss the specific size of the budget for the next fiscal year beginning April 2002. He was commenting on remarks made Thursday by Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa that the initial budget for fiscal 2002 could fall below 80 trillion yen for the first time in four years if the economy remains in a severe state, depressing tax revenues. Takenaka also said he will send his deputy to a meeting on Monday of the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) Policy Board as he will be out of Japan. He said it is necessary for the government and the BOJ to exchange views on the economy as conditions have become clearer since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

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