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Lower House approves 2011 budget

Date Posted: 2011-03-04

It wasn't a total surprise Tuesday as the Lower House of Representatives bulldozed a record エ92.41 trillion budget through, but Prime Minister Naoto Kan's not out of the woods yet in selling all the changes necessary to obtain passage of companion bills.

The Prime Minister has been under pressure to resign in order to get the budget passed, but an adviser to the Democratic Party of Japan says that's unlikely. "The DPJ will definitely be defeated if the Lower House is dissolved now," says former vice speaker of the Lower House Kozo Watanabe. "I don't think such a foolish situation will happen." Kan was reportedly distressed that he didn't have the support he'd expected when the bill passed with 16 of his DPJ lawmakers abstaining from voting. The new budget is to go into effect March 31st, a day before the start of the Japanese fiscal year.

At the same time, Watanabe says "prioritizing passage of the budget over the DPJ, Kan and whoever," is the most important thing for Japan.

The leader of Kokumin Shinto, the People's New Party, Shizuka Kamei, says it will be difficult for Kan's government to remain in power, because its uncertain whether the Prime Minister can muster enough support to gain Diet passage of budget-related bills.

Opposition parties have been criticizing the DPJ for its scheduling manipulation, failing to consult with them. The Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito party, Your Party and Sunrise Party of Japan have banded together with a resolution demanding that the DPJ budget panel leader, Hiroshi Nakai, be ousted. The LDP has introduced its own version of a budget for the 2011 fiscal year ahead, seeking to reduce expenditures to エ89.35 trillion. That resolution was rejected by a majority in the 480-seat Lower House.

Kan, whose cabinet has seen its public support poll ratings dip to below 20% in recent weeks, is trying to regroup and bounce back. "I'm really glad for the (budget) implementation, because it is an urgent issue for the public," says Kan. He called the defection of his 16 DPJ lawmakers "disappointing."

There's no way the budget bill will be blocked, even though it goes to the Upper House, which is controlled by the opposition parties, for discussion. The Japanese Constitution calls for the annual budget being approved and enacted within 30 days of going to the House of Councilors after being passed by the Lower House, even if the Upper House rejects it or refuses to vote on it.

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