New Komeito, Soka Gakkai to be tougher on Mori

Japan Times/November 10, 2000

New Komeito and its main base of support, Soka Gakkai, Japan's largest lay Buddhist organization, said the party will more aggressively push its agenda in the ruling coalition in response to supporters' growing dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's administration.

Senior officials from the two organizations met in Tokyo earlier this week to discuss Mori's declining popularity in the wake of his remarks about Japanese believed abducted by North Korean agents and the resignation of his top aide, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hidenao Nakagawa, over scandals.

Isao Nozaki, Soka Gakkai's vice president in charge of politics, told New Komeito officials that the group "feels somewhat frustrated" about the party's performance in the coalition, according to the officials.

He said the party's supporters want it to speak with a louder voice in the bloc and act as a check on the administration.

New Komeito Secretary General Tetsuzo Fuyushiba told Nozaki the party would "make efforts to live up to your expectations."

After the meeting, Nozaki met the press and criticized Mori's drive to amend the Fundamental Law of Education.

"Wouldn't it be turning the clock back to have a thought leading to reviving part of the Imperial Rescript on Education or reinstating the patriarchy?" he asked reporters.

At a lecture last month, Mori criticized the education law and praised the 1890 rescript, saying: "We used to have the Imperial Rescript on Education to respect our fathers and mothers and get on with our brothers. It was abolished after the war and replaced by the new Fundamental Law of Education."

Nozaki also said he had been paying attention to former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Koichi Kato, who has started expressing a vocal desire to succeed Mori as prime minister.

"I have been paying great attention to him, on how open his mind is on the issue of religion and politics," he said.

New Komeito confirmed at a party convention Saturday that it would remain a member of the tripartite coalition, but some participants criticized the Mori government and the party's performance in the LDP-led coalition.

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