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Japan's Noda eyes DPJ heavyweight as deputy prime minister

01-11-2012 13:48 BJT

TOKYO, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has offered former Democratic Party of Japan secretary general Katsuya Okada the post of deputy prime minister as part of the planned Cabinet reshuffle expected Friday, sources close to the matter revealed Wednesday.

Okada, who now heads the party's administrative reform panel, was approached by the prime minister about the position a few days ago, but has yet to accept or decline, the sources said.

Okada, a renowned DPJ heavyweight, was reportedly sounded out to lead deliberations on the ruling party's planned consumption tax hike.

The plans call for Japan's sales tax to be doubled from its current 5 percent to 10 percent by 2015, with an interim hike to 8 percent in 2014, but has been met with resistance from the opposition bloc and from within the DPJ itself.

Intraparty relations have become strained within the ruling party over tax and social security reform issues and Noda's small Cabinet reshuffle is expected to appease a disgruntled opposition bloc who have threatened to boycott upcoming parliamentary deliberations unless Noda makes adjustments including removing Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa and consumer affairs minister Kenji Yamaoka.

Both ministers were slapped with censure motions by Japan's upper house of parliament last month, but the move, which will appease the opposition, will potentially widen a rift in an already splintered ruling DPJ as Ichikawa and Yamaoka's appointments were originally made to show party unity as both ministers belong to a powerful DPJ intraparty group headed by the party's infamous powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa.

Okada himself refused the position of chief Cabinet secretary in September when Noda first picked his Cabinet, due to concerns the move would rile Ozawa and his powerful lower house coterie.

 

Editor:Bai Yang |Source: Xinhua

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