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Controversial cash handout bill enacted in defiance of strong pubic opposition

The controversial bill to distribute cash handouts as part of the government economic stimulus plan was enacted on March 4 after the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties used their two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives to override the House of Councilors rejection.

The bill had been voted down by the opposition-controlled House of Councilors earlier in the day.

Citing that 70-80 percent of respondents in opinion surveys oppose the cash handout plan, JCP representative Shiokawa Tetsuya in the House of Representatives Plenary Session rose to criticize the ruling-bloc for forcing the second vote. He stated, "The government must acknowledge the public demand and accept the House of Councilors rejection."

At a news conference later in the day, JCP Chair Shii Kazuo stressed, "The general public knows that the cash handout program will not help reduce personal financial problems or get the economy moving and that the ruling parties are just trying to buy votes using tax money. What the people really want to do is to use tax money for those in need."

Shii also said, "The people are angered by the Aso Cabinet's plan to increase the consumption tax rate, which is likely to come after the cash handout program. The JCP strongly protests that the ruling coalition violently used its two-thirds majority for taking a second vote to override the House of Councilors rejection of the bill in defiance of public outrage."

- Akahata, March 5, 2009

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