This file photo shows Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (L) listening to Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano at a gathering in Tokyo, in 2011. Noda is set to replace several ministers on Monday in an attempt to secure opposition support for passing legislation to increase a tax on sales, according to reports.
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
TOKYO: Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is set to replace several ministers on Monday in an attempt to secure opposition support for passing legislation to increase a tax on sales, according to reports.
Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka and Transport, Land and Infrastructure Minister Takeshi Maeda are expected to lose their jobs, the Yomiuri and Kyodo News said Sunday, citing unnamed sources.
The leading opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has called for both to be dismissed after they were censured by the upper house in April for a series of gaffes and for trying to influence a local election respectively.
Farm Minister Michihiko Kano may also be replaced due to his alleged role in passing classified documents to a repatriated Chinese diplomat, whom police suspect of having engaged in spying activities, the reports added.
They came as Noda failed to convince Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the largest intraparty group of Noda's Democratic Party, of his plan to hike the sales tax for the second time in a week.
Noda met Ozawa again Sunday to enlist support in enacting the tax bill during the current parliamentary session, but if the gridlock in his own party continues, the premier will likely turn to the leading opposition for support.
Noda has already told the secretary-general of his ruling Democratic Party of Japan to coordinate with the LDP so that the tax bill will be presented to a lower house vote before the session ends on June 21, local media reported.
By passing the bill, Noda hopes to increase the current five percent sales tax rate in two stages -- to eight percent in April 2014 and to 10 percent in October 2015 -- to rein in the public debt of the rapidly ageing nation.