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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another three defect from Noda's DPJ

Staff writer

Three more Upper House lawmakers bolted from the Democratic Party of Japan on Tuesday, bringing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and the DPJ one critical step closer to losing the No. 1 position in the chamber.

The departure of Yasue Funayama, Kuniko Koda and Kuniko Tanioka leaves the DPJ with only 88 lawmakers in the Upper House, which is already dominated by the opposition camp.

If three or more lawmakers follow suit, the DPJ would lose its No. 1 position to the Liberal Democratic Party.

"Naturally, I am disappointed that they submitted their resignations, but that is all I know so far. . . . I don't think now is the time to be commenting on how (their departure) will affect the administration," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.

The three women submitted their letters of resignation to the DPJ to various key Noda policies, including the reactivation of idled nuclear reactors and raising the consumption tax to 10 percent by October 2015. The DPJ, LDP and New Komeito all agreed on the tax hike.

The women, together with Akiko Kamei, who fled the DPJ's junior coalition partner, Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), in April, will become independent but will form an Upper House caucus group called Midori no Kaze (Green Wind), they said during a news conference.

If the group grows to at least five Diet members, it would clear the legal hurdle for officially forming a political party that would be eligible for public subsidies.

"I understand that there needs to be compromise with the opposition forces in a divided Diet, but I am apprehensive over the way the Noda administration largely changed DPJ policies and principles that should not have been surrendered," Koda said.

The women expressed their intention to invite other lawmakers from both houses to join their group. Their policies include opposing Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another key area in which some DPJ lawmakers find themselves strongly opposed to Noda.

Just a couple of weeks ago, kingpin Ichiro Ozawa bolted from the DPJ, bringing with him 48 other lawmakers from both chambers.

Opposing Noda's tax hike and reactor restarts, the key policies of Ozawa's new party overlap in many areas with the four women.

But they are adamant about not merging with Ozawa's party.

"We have no intention of merging . . . but we do intend to cooperate with parties or lawmakers whose policies are consistent with ours," Koda said.

Meanwhile, DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi admitted he's worried about the increasing number of defectors.

"I told the DPJ executive members that we must share the sense of crisis that we are standing at the end of a cliff," Koshiishi said. "The government could collapse before seeking the judgement of the people."

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The Japan Times

Article 13 of 14 in National news

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