Prime Minister’s Term Extended by One Year
TOKYO (AP) _ Yasuhiro Nakasone, who led his party to an landslide victory in parliamentary elections, won formal party approval Thursday to extend his term as prime minister by one year, a party spokesman said.
Liberal Democratic Party spokesman Yoshiro Yamaguchi said the decision to extend Nakasone’s term as party president - and thus his term as Japan’s prime minister - to October 1987 reflects his broad base of popular support.
Under previous party rules that limited a party president to two two-year terms, the 68-year-old Nakasone would have had to step down at the end of October.
But Yamaguchi said a party meeting revised the rule to allow for an additional one year as president if two-thirds of the party’s members of Parliament approve, which they did.
The president of the party which controls a majority in the House of Representatives serves as prime minister.
The rule revision was recommended by a party committee that had been discussing an extension of Nakasone’s term since the Liberal Democratic Party won a record 304 seats in the 512-member lower house of the Japanese parliament, the Diet.
Before the July election, the Liberal Democrats maintained a majority by forming a coalition with a tiny splinter party.
Kyodo News Service quoted Nakasone as saying upon learning of the party’s decision: ″I want to see Japan claim a respectable position in international society by endeavoring to maintain our independence, upholding international harmony, and refraining from meddling in the domestic affairs of others.″
Kyodo quoted him as saying he was determined to strengthen ties with South Korea, China and other neighbors in the wake of a diplomatic row triggered by remarks by former Education Minister Masayuki Fujio.
In an interview with the monthly magazine Bungei Shunju, Fujio was quoted as saying he felt Korea shared responsibility for Japan’s 1910 annexation of the Korean peninsula because the action ″was based on agreement between the two countries as a matter of fact as well as in form.″
South Korea strongly protested, and Nakasone fired Fujio on Monday night.
After his party’s landslide victory, Nakasone said he believed voters had expressed support for his administration’s programs of education, tax and bureaucratic reforms.
He also described the vote as an endorsement of his pro-Western foreign policy.