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Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2012
Seven in Diet quit parties to join Hashimoto's camp
Election-bent defectors hail from DPJ, LDP, Your Party
By MASAMI ITO
Seven lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties submitted their resignations Tuesday and officially declared their intention to join Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's new national party.
With the participation of more than five incumbent lawmakers, the new Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) will be able to legally become a political party and have its candidates run for both single-seat district proportional representation seats in the next Lower House election.
Hashimoto is expected to declare the party's official launch Wednesday in Osaka.
Former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno, Takashi Ishizeki and Masashi Mito from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan gave their letters of resignation to the party's leadership Tuesday morning.
"I felt the limitations of existing political parties . . . and wanted to stand on a new stage without any strings attached to do my job for the people," Matsuno told a news conference.
Kenta Matsunami from the Liberal Democratic Party also notified his party's executives Tuesday afternoon of his decision to bolt, while Shinji Oguma, Hiroshi Ueno and Fumiki Sakurauchi left Your Party.
"The current situation between the DPJ and LDP has turned into a political mudslinging match. To establish a system in which political decisions can be made, a new, different force . . . is necessary," Matsunami stressed.
The new party will have an unusual structure of having its leader, Hashimoto, in Osaka, while the lawmakers will be based in Tokyo. But members brushed aside concerns that the geographical difference will affect the party's decision-making process.
"We've held internal talks on this, and agreed that the lawmakers will be able to make decisions independently but will discuss broad principles with our leader, Mr. Hashimoto," Matsunami said.
The popular Hashimoto is gearing up for the next Lower House election, which could be held as early as this fall, depending on when Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ultimately decides to call it.
Political observers expect that no single party will be able to win a majority in the Lower House on its own and a coalition government will have to be formed.