26 October 2001, 10:13  Koizumi backpedals on revision of electoral plan

TOKYO, Oct. 26 (Kyodo) - By: Naoko Aoki Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday repeated the need to reconsider a proposed new electoral system for the House of Representatives, but backpedaled somewhat on the call after drawing fierce opposition from one of the ruling coalition parties keen to introduce the plan. Koizumi told senior lawmakers of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in a meeting Friday morning he thinks there is room for improvement in the plan approved by secretaries general of the three ruling parties earlier in the week. "There are various opinions, and we should listen to them. (I asked the lawmakers) to coordinate and report back to me," the premier told reporters at his official residence. But the premier, who said Thursday the plan should be reviewed so it can win support from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), emphasized Friday that the ruling parties should reach an agreement first. "If the ruling parties cannot compile the plan, the DPJ cannot decide on what to do with it," he said. Koizumi was referring to a proposal to change the lower house electoral system by integrating some of the chamber's single-seat constituencies to form 12 new two-seat constituencies and two new three-seat constituencies. The plan reflects the New Komeito party's strong wish to reintroduce multiple-seat constituencies to boost its chances in lower house elections. The New Komeito is the LDP's key ally in the tripartite coalition. The proposal has drawn fire not only from opposition parties but also members of the LDP, particularly lawmakers who will be affected by the changes. Critics say the plan was devised by some sectors of the LDP only to please the New Komeito, which is backed by Japan's largest lay Buddhist organization. Koizumi said Thursday that electoral systems should not be devised out of "party interests," and that the proposal should be revised so that it can win more widespread support -- particularly from the DPJ. The remarks drew a sharp response from New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki, who criticized the premier for talking about cooperation with the DPJ before the ruling parties reach a consensus on a reform plan. The brewing dispute between the leaders of the two coalition allies followed Koizumi's failed attempt earlier in the month to win support from the DPJ over a government-sponsored security bill. Koizumi tried to reach a compromise with DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama over the bill for enabling Japan to provide noncombat support for the ongoing U.S.-led antiterrorism operation. But the talks broke down, dashing the premier's hopes for DPJ support on the bill in a lower house vote. Koizumi is keen to win support from the DPJ to make up for the lack of a strong power base in his own ruling bloc as he tries to push ahead with aggressive reform plans that are certain to face opposition from some sectors of the ruling camp. But the New Komeito is less than pleased with Koizumi's overtures, as are LDP sectors which put priority on the party's ties with the New Komeito. Senior members of LDP factions that put priority on the party's alliance with the New Komeito -- including the biggest group led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto -- supported the new electoral system plan in party meetings on Thursday.

© 1999-2022 Forex EuroClub
All rights reserved