Special Diet session under Noda ends - The Japan Times

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Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011

The first extraordinary Diet session during Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's administration wrapped up Friday with uncertainty surrounding the next extra budget for quake reconstruction, which will take center stage when the next session opens as early as mid-October.

The government and ruling party are aiming to accelerate the process for drafting of third supplementary budget for fiscal 2011, but whether they can win over the opposition camp to allow its passage remains a huge unknown.

To move forward, Azuma Koshiishi, secretary general and the No. 2 man in the Democratic Party of Japan, has proposed holding talks with his counterparts in the opposition, lawmakers said.

But the ruling and opposition parties will have to first deal with the issue of DPJ heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa's political money scandal, which was put under the spotlight again this week after three of his former aides were found guilty of falsifying reports on his political funds.

The opposition parties have demanded that Ozawa give sworn testimony in the Diet. If the DPJ doesn't comply, the Liberal Democratic Party is likely to reject the offer for cross-party budget talks.

In an apparent attempt at a compromise, Koshiishi was quoted by a lawmaker as saying he will "take the opposition's requests seriously and properly handle" the matter, a remark that can be interpreted as being open to calling Ozawa for questioning in the Diet.

He later told reporters he was "not thinking of sworn testimony," hinting that inviting the former DPJ leader to appear before the Lower House ethics panel could be considered. Even if the panel votes to hold a hearing for Ozawa, the decision would not be binding and Ozawa could choose not to appear.

LDP chief Sadakazu Tanigaki is also reluctant to hold talks with the ruling bloc before the government presents its budget plan and has it approved by the Cabinet, while LDP ally New Komeito is more positive about holding the budget talks soon.

Other opposition parties have asked for the talks to not only involve the DPJ, the LDP and New Komeito, lawmakers said.

Noda's first Diet session, which kicked off Sept. 13, was fraught with wrangling from the outset, with the ruling and opposition parties disagreeing on the length of the session. The ruling party forced through a session of four days but agreed to extend it to 18 due to opposition demands.

Noda has been calling for cooperation from the opposition camp to help enact the third extra budget. The opposition parties' support is crucial because they control the Upper House.

01 Oct, 2011

Source: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&usg=AFQjCNFMJQ231aKWdfOAX2HFwkqxllhazg&url=http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20111001a6.html
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