Hatoyama Plans to Form New Party Spells Trouble for Noda

Speculation is rife that former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and his followers will form a new party, and whether he stays in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan could determine the future of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s government.

The DPJ has already lost 49 lawmakers to Ichiro Ozawa’s new Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People’s Life First) and Noda is barely maintaining a majority in the Lower House. If 16 or more lawmakers follow Ozawa’s lead, the DPJ-Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) coalition would fall from power.

Hatoyama denied media reports Friday that he could leave the DPJ over his opposition to the consumption tax hike and launch a new party, saying they are “groundless.”

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Japan’s House of Councillors Start Debates on Reform Bills

Japans House of Councillors on Wednesday started debates on six social security reform bills, part of a package of eight comprehensive reform bills including legislation for a consumption tax increase.

“The comprehensive reforms are a task we cannot afford to lose any time carrying out,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told a plenary meeting of the upper chamber of parliament.

“I ask for sincere debates so that the bills are passed into law early,” he said, stressing his resolve to accomplish the reforms in order to show that politicians can make painful but necessary decisions.

On Friday, the Upper House will start deliberations on the remaining two bills of the package, both of which are needed to boost the 5 pct consumption tax rate to 8 pct in April 2014 and to 10 pct in October 2015.

If things go smoothly, the bills are expected to be put to votes as soon as early August.

Japan Lower House Passes Sales Tax Law – Win for Noda Risks Party Majority

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s biggest step yet toward winning a sales tax increase aimed at reining in the nation’s public debt came at the cost of alienating one-fifth of his party’s lower house lawmakers.

While the chamber yesterday approved legislation to double the 5 percent levy by October 2015, 57 lawmakers in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan voted no, and former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa signaled he may leave. If he takes more than 50 followers with him, it could endanger the party’s majority.

Noda, who called the rebellion “unfortunate,” now must hold together a deal with the opposition Liberal Democratic Party to win passage for the bill in the upper house. With the Diet session extended until Sept. 8, weeks of wrangling may be in store for a country that has seen six leaders since 2006.

Read the rest of the story: Noda Victory on Japan Sales Tax Law Risks Party Majority.



UN Dismisses Japanese Island claims

Tokyos bid to upgrade the status of a Pacific atoll into an island, and claim an exclusive economic zone around it, was dismissed by the United Nations.China welcomed the decision as “fair and reasonable”.”

Japans claim of an outer continental shelf based on Okinotori Atoll was not acknowledged by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, said on Wednesday, quoting information released by the UN agency.

The UN dismissal prevents Japan claiming the Okinotori Atoll as an island. An “island” designation allows a state to proclaim a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone around it and sole rights to resources within the zone.

Read the rest of the story: Japanese island claims dismissed by UN.

Japan passes tax increases as Cabinet OKs bill

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his ruling Democratic Party of Japan-led government managed to submit the contentious bill to the Diet on Friday to double the consumption tax to 10 percent by 2015, while junior coalition partner Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) was on the verge of collapsing over internal conflict on the legislation.

Given the green light by the Cabinet in the morning and submitted to the Diet later in the day, the bill is now ready to be deliberated on in the Lower House and the government is hoping it will be passed by the time the current Diet session ends in June.

Read the rest of the story: Cabinet OKs bill to double sales tax by ’15.


Can Japan Avert a Crisis? BAU No-Go.

When should dismay give way to distress?  When does disfunction trip into crisis?I really detest writing–much more thinking–like this, but the politics now prevailing in Tokyo are driving me to distraction.Being debated this week in the Diet are three urgent issues:  1 formal entry into TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks that would open Japanese agriculture to foreign competition, 2 proposed legislation to increase consumption tax from 5% to 10% by 2016 to fund Japan’s old age security system; and 3 the FY2012 budget, including authorization to issue new debt to fund  to some 50 percent of expenditures.

Read the rest of the story: Can Japan Avert a Crisis? Not Like This..

Noda’s Support Falls as LDP Calls for Japan Election Over Sales Tax Plan

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s proposal to double the country’s consumption tax by 2015 faces growing public skepticism as the main opposition party ramps up its call for elections over the issue.

Sixty percent of voters oppose the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s plan to raise the 5 percent tax in two stages to 10 percent, a Mainichi newspaper poll today said. Noda’s approval rating fell to 32 percent from 38 percent last month and has dropped 24 percentage points since September, when he became Japan’s sixth leader in five years, the survey showed.

The decline in popularity follows the pattern of his five predecessors, all of whom took office with more than 50 percent approval only to see it plummet within a year. Noda is seeking to raise revenue to shore up the social welfare system amid discontent over a struggling economy, the world’s largest debt and the pace of recovery from last year’s earthquake and nuclear disaster.

Read the rest of the story: Noda’s Support Falls as LDP Calls for Japan Election Over Sales Tax Plan.

Japan’s PM Noda Asks Fiscal Hawk Okada to Be DPM

Japan’s prime minister, faced with sinking popularity rates and hostile opposition, has asked ruling party heavyweight Katsuya Okada, a fiscal hawk, to become his deputy to oversee tax and social security reform, domestic media reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda hopes that drafting Okada, who has held key government and party posts in the past, would boost the government’s chances of pushing through an increase in Japan’s 5 percent sales tax to fund swelling social welfare costs, the Asahi and other major newspapers said.

The government plans to submit bills by March to double the  sales tax in two stages by 2015, but their passage is uncertain as opposition parties can use their control of parliament’s upper house to block legislation.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Noda Asks Fiscal Hawk Okada to Be DPM.

Japan Politics: New party Kizuna launched by 9 DPJ defectors

Nine Lower House lawmakers who announced last week that they were leaving the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, on Wednesday launched a new party called Kizuna.

The party, headed by Akira Uchiyama from Chiba Prefecture, filed their application with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The nine DPJ defectors said they left the DPJ because of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s decision to hike the consumption tax and resume the Yamba dam project.

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Japan Upper House Set to Censure Two of Noda’s Cabinet Ministers

Japan’s two main opposition parties submitted parliamentary censure motions against two of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet ministers, and may boycott the next Diet session unless they are fired.

The Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party submitted the non-binding reprimands to the Upper House today against Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa and Consumers Affairs Minister Kenji Yamaoka. Ichikawa said this week he will cut his salary to take responsibility after a deputy compared the planned relocation of a U.S. military base on Okinawa to rape.

The opposition-controlled upper chamber is likely to pass the measures, undercutting Noda’s efforts to focus on rebuilding from the March earthquake and nuclear disaster. New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said on Fuji TV last night his party is unlikely to attend parliament with censured ministers still in office. The Diet will adjourn today for the year.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Upper House Set to Censure Two of Noda’s Cabinet Ministers.