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Nakasone Assured on Party Leadership

July 19, 1986|SAM JAMESON | Times Staff Writer

TOKYO — Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone won assurances Friday that his Liberal Democratic Party will not ask him to step down Oct. 30, when his term as party president expires.

The guarantee of an extension as party president--and thus the party's choice as prime minister--came by means of a unanimous but informal consensus that took shape Friday.

The three party leaders considered most likely to succeed Nakasone agreed over dinner Thursday night to let Nakasone remain at the helm "until pending issues requiring speedy action are solved."

Their agreement sparked widespread comment throughout the party Friday--all favoring an extension of Nakasone's term without going through the formality of revising a party rule that limits the party president to two terms totaling four years.

Nakasone refused to comment on the agreement.

The three party leaders--Finance Minister Noboru Takeshita, Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe and Kiichi Miyazawa, chairman of the party's executive board--set no deadline for resolving the issues that they mentioned.

3 Main Issues Listed

Abe and Miyazawa told reporters that these issues include legislative approval of a supplementary budget, revision of an old-age medical insurance law and enactment of laws to split up and privatize the government-run Japan National Railways. All three issues are to be taken up in a special session of Parliament expected to open in September.

The faction of the party nominally headed by ailing former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka is regarded as holding the key to how long Nakasone will be allowed to stay on. It controls nearly a third of the votes needed to elect a new party leader. Nakasone and Tanaka together control nearly half the votes.

Two of the Tanaka faction's most influential leaders, Susumu Nikaido, a party vice president, and Shin Kanemaru, the party secretary general, have advocated that Nakasone be allowed to serve until the end of the next regular session of Parliament, or until around May or June of 1987.

Parliament to Meet

An extraordinary session of Parliament will open Tuesday to deal only with the selection of parliamentary officers and the re-designation of Nakasone as prime minister after the Liberal Democrats' overwhelming victory in the election of July 6. Nakasone will then name a new Cabinet.

The consensus to allow Nakasone to stay on came about as a result of the election, which gave the Liberal Democrats a 48-seat majority in the lower house of Parliament, where the prime minister is elected. The party leaders agreed that they should not try to force Nakasone out of office less than four months after the voters gave him a landslide mandate.

In another development, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan) announced Thursday that he and Minority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-West Va.) were soliciting signatures on a letter to Nakasone telling him that his victory created "an unprecedented opportunity" for progress in reducing America's trade deficit with Japan, which is heading toward $60 billion for this year.

In a statement issued in Washington, Dole said: "We must not allow commercial grievances to divide us. We must make every effort to solve them, and now we have been presented with an extraordinary chance to do so. We would be foolish not to seize the moment."

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