Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Sunday said he supported a grand coalition of the three main political parties in Japan. Maehara's comments follow similar remarks on Saturday from Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who has indicated that he will run in the DPJ presidential election to succeed Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
However, Maehara -- speaking on a TV program -- said he differs from Noda on the crucial issue of a tax increase. Noda has publicly emphasized the need to raise taxes to help Japan rebuild following the March 11 disaster. Maehara, on the other hand, favors delaying the decision.
Speaking of a possible grand coalition, Maehara said: "In these extraordinary times, we need to cooperate. If the DPJ doesn't cooperate with the opposition, no bills will be passed."
Although Maehara has not yet declared his intention to run in the leadership race, some have taken his recent declarations on the coalition idea, tax reform and reconstruction efforts as signs that he is hoping to be viewed as a potential leader. Up until now, Maehara has publicly claimed to be unenthusiastic about running for the DPJ leadership, but said on the TV program that he would consult his closest supporters on the issue.
In March, Maehara stepped down as foreign minister after it was discovered he had received donations from a South Korean permanent resident of Japan. Observers believe Maehara is concerned the opposition parties may raise the issue in the Diet if he joins the presidential race.
Sources inside the Ryoun-kai, Maehara's intraparty group, are believed to favor a less well-known candidate for the current race, whose winner is to lead only for the remainder of Kan's term, which ends in September of next year. A middle-ranking group member told the press, "Maehara is our biggest name, so we are hoping to hold him back for the House of Representatives election."© Japan Today