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Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008
DPJ, Kokumin Shinto ditch merger for now
Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party) said Friday it agreed with the Democratic Party of Japan to shelve a plan to merge the two parties before the Lower House election.
One major reason for the decision is a technicality. Under Diet law, members elected by proportional representation are basically banned from changing affiliation. So to execute the merger, the DPJ would have to dissolve itself and form a totally new party.
Thus, according to the letter of the law, not every Kokumin Shinto member can simply change parties.
One Kokumin Shinto lawmaker affected by this rule is Kensei Hasegawa, who originally entered the Upper House by proportional representation on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket.
For Hasegawa to join the DPJ, both parties would have to dissolve and reform as an entirely new entity, which is highly unlikely.
The nine lawmakers who make up Kokumin Shinto include LDP defectors who strongly opposed former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's postal privatization plan.
Earlier in the day, Kokumin Shinto leader Tamisuke Watanuki canceled a meeting with DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa to discuss the merger.
Watanuki said Hasegawa represents his party's policy platform and more time is needed to plan the way forward.
"The party has not yet reached a conclusion," Watanuki said, explaining his decision to abort the meeting.
But he also said Kokumin Shinto would prefer "an equal merger," which would entail disbanding both parties.