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Japanese Parties Break Two-Week Parliament Deadlock

February 19, 1992

TOKYO (AP) _ The ruling party and the opposition broke a two-week deadlock on budget talks in Parliament Tuesday night after the government agreed to summon two witnesses to testify on bribery scandals.

The opposition had boycotted the debate to enforce its demand the government summon former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki and Jun Shiozaki, former director of the Management and Coordination Agency, to testify about the scandals.

Deliberations on the budget for fiscal 1992 were to resume Wednesday but the two witnesses will not be summoned until next week, said a Socialist party source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Suzuki, who has insisted he is not a key figure in the case, will testify as an unsworn witness, which means he cannot be persecuted if he makes false statements. Shiozaki’s testimony as a sworn witness will not be televised, the source said.

Opposition parties have boycotted lower house budget hearings since Feb. 5 because the ruling Liberal Democrats refused to summon 27 people to testify on the bribery scandal involving Kyowa, a now-defunct steel frame company.

Media reports have said Shiozaki and Suzuki received $160,000 and $79,000 respectively from Kyowa in return for political favors. Prosecutors have declined to comment on the reports.

Opposition lawmakers were unable to convince the Liberal Democrats to summon Fumio Abe, a close associate of Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa who is charged with accepting $640,000 in bribes from Kyowa while he headed the Hokkaido and Okinawa Development Agency.

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