Japan's MPs squabble over reform

JAPAN'S political crisis deepened last night as the government and opposition parties failed to narrow their differences over proposals to clean up the country's corrupt politics, setting the stage for a showdown in parliament today and possibly new elections. Earlier in the day the Prime Minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, made an impassioned speech on television to the Japanese people, saying the country faced political and economic chaos if reform laws were not introduced in the current Diet (parliament) session, which ends on Saturday.

'If we cannot realise political reform . . . the people's loss of confidence in Japan's party politics will become irrevocable, and it is clear that Japan will completely lose the trust of the international community,' said Mr Hosokawa. But with deep splits in the seven-party governing coalition and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the chances of substantial political reform now appear slim.

Today, Mr Hosokawa proposes to hold a meeting with Yohei Kono, the LDP president, to make one last attempt at a compromise. But Mr Kono's room for manoeuvre is limited by two opposing factions within his own party: old-generation hardliners, who oppose any reform, and a younger generation of politicians who favour reform and are threatening to bolt the party. Mr Hosokawa may try to force the issue and split the LDP by calling a full vote in the Diet. And in the background to the parliamentary struggle is a corruption investigation by public prosecutors, who may issue arrest warrants for three senior LDP politicians on Sunday after the Diet closes. Members of parliament cannot be prosecuted while the Diet is in session.

Mr Hosokawa's government came to power last August pledging to reform the country's corrupt money politics.

But despite overwhelming public support for reform, he has faced dogged resistance from elected politicians who fear their ability to collect 'donations', and even their parliamentary seats, would be endangered by alterations to the current system. A package of reform measures was voted down in the upper house of the Diet last Friday, and since then the government and the LDP have been negotiating over a compromise.

The LDP has been holding out, among other things, for a provision allowing individual politicians to continue receiving political funds from corporations. Mr Hosokawa's plan ruled out such donations to individuals, which are seen as one of the main sources of political corruption. The Prime Minister's aides say the LDP's position is hypocritical, and does not embrace reform at all. The two sides are divided on the extent of a proposed new system of proportional representation in general elections.

There was posturing on both sides. In his televised speech for public consumption, Mr Hosokawa said: 'I will not remain prime minister for a minute if political reform is not achieved,' an apparent promise to resign and call new elections if the new laws do not go through. But only minutes later he told political reporters back in his official residence that: 'I only uttered something as a matter of course . . . I am not thinking of dissolving the House or Representatives for a general election or of disbanding my cabinet.'

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam