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Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Hatoyama to leave council after failed merger attempt

Staff writer

Yukio Hatoyama, former president of the Democratic Party of Japan, said Tuesday he will resign from the party's top decision-making body to take responsibility for a failed attempt to merge with the Liberal Party.

Hatoyama said he will meet DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada on Wednesday to formally express his intention to resign from the party's Standing Officer Council.

Hatoyama agreed with Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa last year to try to merge the two parties. He remained a key proponent of the idea even after stepping down as DPJ head despite strong opposition from many DPJ members.

On Monday, however, the movement was back at square one after the Liberal Party said it could not accept the DPJ's proposal that the two first jointly form a parliamentary group.

"For my part, I'll take my share of the responsibility," Hatoyama told The Japan Times. He also said he feels that the top DPJ executives who negotiated with the Liberal Party were "not motivated" to seriously push for the merger in the first place.

He and his followers within the DPJ will continue their efforts to realize the merger, he said.

Hatoyama was forced to resign as DPJ president in December after failing to form a party consensus on the merger. The talks were later resumed by his successor, Naoto Kan.

At a meeting Tuesday of the party's House of Representatives members, Kan said he will place top priority on maintaining unity among existing members, not on a merger with other opposition parties that could lead to a secession of opposing DPJ members.

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The Japan Times

Article 5 of 16 in National news

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