The leader of Japan’s main opposition party said a coalition with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s ruling party remains unlikely after the two cooperated on legislation to double the national consumption tax.
Liberal Democratic Party leader Sadakazu Tanigaki said divisions within Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan over the tax proposal, which is set to be voted on in the lower house of parliament tomorrow, make cooperation impossible. Former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa opposes the bill and has suggested he may leave and form a new party with his followers.
“I am extremely negative about the idea of a grand coalition at this point,” Tanigaki said at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan today in Tokyo. “The reason is that the biggest party in the lower house of parliament has several heads and I don’t know which way it’s going.”
Members of both parties have suggested a partnership between Japan’s two biggest parties to overcome a hung parliament and cope with a struggling economy and the aftermath of last year’s record earthquake and nuclear crisis. Tanigaki rejected an offer by Noda’s predecessor, Naoto Kan, to join the cabinet after the March 2011 disasters.
The DPJ hammered out a deal with the LDP and its smaller partner New Komeito earlier this month, shelving many of its election pledges on social welfare to win support for the tax plan. Ozawa last week said he would vote against the measure, adding that while he had “no concrete plans to leave and form a new party,” he would consult with his followers on what steps to take.
Both the DPJ and LDP are floundering in opinion polls. A Nikkei newspaper survey published today showed each party’s approval rating at 26 percent. The newspaper surveyed 917 voters by telephone and gave no margin of error.