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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
Japan's PM survives no-confidence vote
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Mr Koizumi is accused of reneging on reform
Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has comfortably defeated an opposition vote of no confidence.


Politics is not about putting on a show

Yukio Hatoyama, opposition leader
The largely symbolic vote was called by Democratic Party politicians to protest at the lack of progress on reform and economic problems and to show anger at medical policy revisions they say were rammed through without proper debate.

The measure had not been expected to pass, given the majority held by Mr Koizumi's ruling coalition.

But the first no-confidence vote against Mr Koizumi was still a severe embarrassment. His support ratings have taken a severe battering since he came to power last April.

If the vote - which fell by 280 to 185 - had passed, he would either have had to call elections or reshuffle his cabinet.

Reforms stuck

Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, said: "Politics is not about putting on a show.

"His structural reforms have had no impact."

Two of the prime minister's reform proposals have stalled this session.

One outlines the military's role in case of attack, sparking criticism that it could rekindle Japanese militarism.

The other seeks to protect the privacy of personal records. Critics said it could muzzle the media and help politicians hide illegal slush funds.

A reform bill that was passed this week on Japan's health care angered the opposition when it was pushed through an upper house committee without discussion in parliament.

There are only two days left in the current session of parliament.

But a senior member of Mr Koizumi's administration, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, said on Tuesday that the ruling coalition intended to hold an extra session of parliament later in the year to give the leader time to push through the outstanding reforms.

Economic woes

The opposition also accuses Mr Koizumi of ignoring Japan's struggling economy.

Although the prime minister has pushed through several economic reform bills this year, economic growth remains stagnant and unemployment is soaring at all-time highs above 5%.

Even though Mr Koizumi survived the no-confidence vote, there are reports that he will reshuffle his cabinet anyway.

On Sunday, the secretary general of Mr Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) said the prime minister will "definitely" reshuffle at the end of September.

"[Mr Koizumi] will appoint people that can help push his reform agenda," Taku Yamasaki told a talk show on the Fuji Television network.

See also:

03 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
23 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
01 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
29 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
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