Japan’s main opposition leader Friday promised drastic government reforms but was grilled over a political fund scandal ahead of key elections that could make him the next prime minister.
Yukio Hatoyama, who leads the Democratic Party of Japan, said his party would aggressively cut waste and decentralise the government if it wins general elections which embattled prime minister Taro Aso has to call by September.
“Our number one priority is to cut wasteful spending. We will draft our election manifesto with that in mind,” Hatoyama said in his address to the National Press Club.
Should the Democratic Party win the elections, Hatoyama would become the next premier, pushing Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party out of power after it has ruled Japan almost continuously for the past five decades.
The Democratic Party would still maintain the Japan-US alliance as the foundation of its diplomatic policies, he said, despite calls by a former opposition leader to drastically reduce the US military presence.
Hatoyama added, however, that the alliance may be reviewed to better reflect changing geopolitics and technological advances.
Hatoyama said the DPJ, which has been gaining momentum in the run-up to the election, would try to balance the free market with strengthening safety measures for the socially weak and poor.
Local media attention focused mainly on Hatoyama’s money scandal involving the sources and accounting records of his political funds. He profusely apologised but maintained that any wrongdoing was committed by his former staff without his knowledge.
Hatoyama added that he was waiting for his lawyer to investigate the issue.