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Kan's foes maneuvering no-confidence vote

06-01-2011 16:23 BJT Special Report:9.0 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Japan |

TOKYO - Dozens of Japanese ruling party rebels plan to vote for a no-confidence motion against unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan, media said on Wednesday, short of the number needed to oust the leader but enough to split the party and weaken his clout as he struggles with the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

Analysts have said Kan would likely survive the vote, which looked set to take place on Thursday, but he would still face big hurdles pushing policies through a divided parliament, including an extra budget to pay for rebuilding after a deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Adoption of the motion would force Kan either to resign with his cabinet or call a snap lower house poll. While he has refused to rule out the latter, analysts say holding an election would be tough while part of the country is still trying to recover from the nuclear and natural disasters.

Rivals in Kan's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), many of whom back scandal-tainted powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa - a veteran strategist known for shaking things up - want the premier to quit before the vote.

That could clear the way for a new leader who could form a coalition with the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party to break a parliamentary logjam.

But media reports said Kan had brushed off a demand to quit in talks on Tuesday with his predecessor Yukio Hatoyama, who himself resigned abruptly just a year ago.

Kan, who took office last year as Japan's fifth premier in as many years, is struggling to control the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima atomic plant, pay for rebuilding the northeast region devastated by the tsunami, and craft tax reforms to pay for rising social security costs.

The Asahi newspaper said more than 50 backers of Ozawa, who has been charged over a funding scandal, planned to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion. That would fall short of the more than 70 DPJ votes needed to pass the motion in the 480 member lower house, where the Democrats have 305 seats.

"It doesn't look as if the prime minister will resign," the Yomiuri newspaper quoted Ozawa as telling a close source. "If we go on this way, Japan will be done for. I will act together with my comrades."

Kan, who was set to meet younger lawmakers from both the LDP and DPJ before facing off with his main opposition rival in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday, appeared to hold out an olive branch to his critics by suggesting a parliament session set to end on June 22 could be extended, media reports said.

The opposition and DPJ critics want the session extended in order to deal with a second extra budget to fund the next phase of rebuilding from the tsunami in what will be Japan's biggest reconstruction project since the early post-World War Two era.

The government also needs to get parliament to enact a bill enabling the issuance of fresh bonds to finance 44 percent of the $1 trillion budget for the fiscal year already begun in April.

Kan's cabinet is also trying to finalise this month proposals for social security and tax reforms -- including a likely doubling of the 5 percent sales tax in stages by 2015.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: China Daily

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