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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hatoyama's brother quits 'ousted' LDP

Hoped-for allies mum; 'socialistic' DPJ's boss gives the cold shoulder

Staff writer

Former internal affairs minister Kunio Hatoyama, whose older brother, Yukio, is the prime minister, served notice Monday that he was exiting the Liberal Democratic Party, saying he was ready to form a new force.

News photo
Parting ways: Former internal affairs minister Kunio Hatoyama is surrounded by reporters Monday evening after he submitted his resignation to the Liberal Democratic Party. KYODO PHOTO

The prime minister, the president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, meanwhile said it is unlikely he will cooperate with his sibling.

"I don't intend to work with him," the prime minister told reporters. "I will not refer to other parties' situations."

Speaking to reporters in front of his office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward after his secretary handed in his resignation at LDP headquarters, Kunio Hatoyama said he intended to act as an "adhesive" that would connect those with similar political visions in forming a new party and bringing about a political realignment.

He said he expected former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano and ex-health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, both LDP lawmakers, to join him in launching a new party before the Golden Week holidays in early May. The two so far, however, have not warmed to the idea.

"The nation is treading a path toward doom," Hatoyama said, criticizing his brother's DPJ-led "socialistic" administration.

"That's why I judged it best to recruit allies and create a new party that would work hard as a powerful opposition force," Hatoyama said, stressing his defection was not intended to pose a problem for or alienate the LDP.

"The LDP's greatest failure was in being ousted from power," he said, referring to the once-ruling party's historic defeat to the DPJ in last summer's Lower House election. "And the LDP does not have the strength to regain lost ground."

On a Sunday Fuji TV program, Hatoyama said he decided to leave the LDP and form a new party, voicing his hope to form an alliance with Yosano and Masuzoe.

Yosano, in an essay in a monthly magazine, demanded that LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki step down and also threatened to form a new party. He has since remained mum after his essay drew fire from LDP brass.

Masuzoe, a former health minister, endorsed the essay.

Kunio Hatoyama's idea for a new party was given the cold shoulder Monday morning by Masuzoe and people close to Yosano — apparently because they believe the time is not yet right to speak out.

Asked by reporters about Hatoyama's move, Masuzoe said, "I'm exchanging opinions with various people to assess the political situation, but nothing has been decided."

Those close to Yosano also remained cautious about the idea to bolt from the LDP.

A group must have a minimum of five lawmakers or must have won 2 percent or more votes cast at the previous national election by constituencies or in the proportional representation portion.

Kunio Hatoyama said he believed he could fulfill the requirements, and said cooperation with Yoshimi Watanabe's Your Party may be possible.

Earlier in the day in a speech in Tokyo, Watanabe — considered another key figure in forging a new force — also snubbed Hatoyama's idea.

Meanwhile, LDP Deputy Secretary General Hiroyuki Sonoda, a close aide to Yosano and a vocal critic of the LDP leadership headed by Tanigaki, resigned from his post, citing difference in opinion with party executives.

Information from Kyodo added

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The Japan Times

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