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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012
Matsuno to lead Ishin no Kai Diet members
Former Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Yorihisa Matsuno was chosen Wednesday to head the Diet lawmakers in Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) during the first meeting between members from both Diet chambers.
"We're a completely new party. We'll do our best to contribute to people's livelihoods by differentiating ourselves from existing political parties and achieving 'Ishin Hassaku,' " the party's "eight policies for restoring the country," Matsuno, a former deputy chief Cabinet secretary, said at a news conference after the meeting.
Although Nippon Ishin no Kai, which was officially launched Sept. 28, is headed by founder Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, Matsuno will lead the party's Diet members. On Thursday, Matsuno will formally appoint Kenta Matsunami, formerly of the Liberal Democratic Party, as the party's secretary general, and name Fumiki Sakurai, a former Your Party member, as policy chief.
Asked how closely they must consult with Hashimoto, Matsuno said Diet members will make up their own minds on matters relating to the Diet, such as voting on legislation. However, because they "share the values of Ishin Hassaku" all party members can head in the same direction, he said.
In total, nine lawmakers attended the meeting, including two who were admitted to the party Wednesday: Masato Imai, a former DPJ member first elected in 2009, and Takashi Tanihata, a former vice health minister with the LDP.
The new party is bigger than DPJ coalition partner Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), which has only six lawmakers after former party leader Shizuka Kamei and policy chief Akiko Kamei were dismissed in April over their refusal to back the government's plan to double the 5 percent consumption tax by 2015.
Already the size of other opposition parties, the influence of Nippon Ishin no Kai will grow if other lawmakers sign on. Your Party is down to 13 members after three left to join Nippon Ishin no Kai. The Social Democratic Party has 10 lawmakers , while the Japanese Communist Party has 15.
The LDP has shown greater willingness to cooperate with Nippon Ishin no Kai as its popularity has grown.
At a news conference announcing his retirement on Tuesday, Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary general who served in 2006 in the administration of newly re-elected party head Shinzo Abe, said: "It's possible that there will be cooperation with Nippon Ishin no Kai under Abe. I hope to make use of my experience if there is such an opportunity."