Ruling Party Presses Budget

THE Japanese political situation remains in turmoil in the aftermath of the resignation Tuesday of Japanese Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita. After failing to get the opposition parties to end their boycott of the Parliament, the ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) moved to pass the national budget by itself. The opposition has demanded that former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone justify his links with the Recruit, the company that is behind the bribery scandal that has forced Mr. Takeshita's resignation.

The LDP passed the budget through the budget committee yesterday and is prepared to take the same unilateral action in a full session of the lower house of Parliament today. The opposition parties condemned the government's bid to ram the budget through.

The government has been operating on a temporary budget since the current one ran out at the end of March. LDP officials say the budget must be passed before the premier leaves Saturday for a tour of Southeast Asian nations. The budget includes economic aid for those countries.

But political analysts say the LDP is trying to avoid an extension of the Parliament session (due to close at the end of May) which would provide opportunities for the opposition to press its demand to dissolve Parliament and hold full general elections.

Meanwhile, the selection of a successor to Mr. Takeshita faces new obstacles. Former Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ito told reporters he turned down a request that he take the post, citing ill health. Mr. Ito is considered the most likely candidate because he is one of the few senior party officials untouched by the corruption scandal.

Japanese press reports say Ito's refusal is actually a ploy to gain greater authority in a new government. A decision on the premiership will likely be made after the end of the holiday week beginning tomorrow, although it could come sooner.

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