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Saturday, June 30, 2012
Ozawa to decide Monday whether to bolt from DPJ
By MASAMI ITO and NATSUKO FUKUE
Former Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa said he will decide Monday whether he and his loyalists will leave the ruling party after failing Friday to force Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to scrap his tax hike.
Ozawa met with DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi three times since Thursday to urge him to get the bill killed. But with Noda determined to double the tax to 10 percent by October 2015, Ozawa and his followers were preparing to make their exit as early as next week.
"If the tax hike bill is scrapped (we might be able to stay in the DPJ), . . . but if not we will basically have no choice but to leave the party," Shozo Azuma, a close ally of Ozawa, said Friday morning on a TBS news program.
But Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura suggested that any changes to the bill are unlikely as the DPJ had to hammer out the proposed legislation with the two main opposition parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.
"The bill was agreed on among three parties and passed in the Lower House by a large majority. In general, the administration hopes the bill will be deliberated on and enacted as is in the Upper House," he said.
Noda has to decide how to punish Ozawa and the 71 other DPJ rebels. Ozawa's allies are calling for leniency, while others are demanding strict measures, including expulsion from the party.
If he does not hand down a severe punishment, the LDP and New Komeito are ready to launch an all-out attack on Noda.