TOKYO -- Two ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) heavyweights are defending LDP legislators' participation in a party on July 5 while extensive areas of the country faced warnings of torrential rain that ended up claiming over 200 lives.
"The gathering was aimed at allowing current and former Cabinet ministers to promote friendship with younger legislators with no factional affiliations. It was quite significant in that sense," Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso told a news conference on July 17. "The gathering is held almost every year, although I wasn't present on that day." He added that criticism of legislators' participation was "extremely regrettable."
LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, meanwhile, told reporters on July 17, "I think it would be better if such a thing hadn't happened, but it's not a matter people should make a fuss over."
Dozens of LDP legislators including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the "Akasaka Jimin-tei" party, which was held in the Akasaka district of downtown Tokyo on July 5.
(Japanese original by Nozomu Takeuchi, Political News Department)