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.

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Japan’s Prime Minister Noda names new cabinet with eye on unity

Japan’s new prime minister on Friday assembled a cabinet that appears intended to curb political infighting as the government tries to guide reconstruction of the country’s disaster-hit northeastern coastline.

Yoshihiko Noda gave key cabinet posts to both those with ties to rival factions in the ruling party and those with ties to the leading opposition party. The appointments, analysts said, create the possibility of greater cooperation — and easier passage of legislation — following months of gridlock, squabbling and dwindling government credibility.

Noda’s cabinet lacks the experience of its predecessors, particularly with the appointment of little-known Jun Azumi as finance minister. It also skews toward lawmakers with conservative backgrounds, in a sign that his Democratic Party of Japan might be drifting away from the populist agenda that it brought to office in 2009, when it ended the Liberal Democratic Party’s half-century of domination.

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