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.'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Biomass Sales Consultant

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Java Developer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

MS Dynamics NAV/Navision Developer

£45000 - £53000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS DYNAMICS N...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game