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Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012

Tax hike foes in DPJ form new group

Staff writer

As their party's majority teeters on the brink in the Lower House, Democratic Party of Japan members opposed to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's tax hike goals launched a new study group Wednesday to try to sway policy.

Fifteen members from both the upper and lower chambers, including former farm minister Masahiko Yamada, attended the group's first study session, which was on nuclear power.

After the session, one of the organizers, Lower House member Hiroshi Kawauchi, explained, "we want to offer proposals" on various DPJ policies, including in the areas of energy, taxes and the tariff-eliminating Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Noda's desire to stop further defections from the party gives the new study group a shot at real influence. Kawauchi dismissed the idea of leaving the DPJ, saying it is unlikely the party will ignore their proposals. "I'm sure our proposals will be reflected" in the DPJ policies, he said.

The ruling party will lose its Lower House majority if only five of its 243 members in the chamber leave. The DPJ's coalition partner, Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), holds three seats in the Lower House.

After its landslide victory in the 2009 Lower House election, the DPJ had 308 lawmakers in the chamber. Since then, more than 60 have left for other parties, including Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People's Life First) headed by former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa.

Since the summer, DPJ members opposed to the sales tax hike have formed several groups.

An agreement reached in June between the DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito to raise the consumption tax to 10 percent to cover swelling social security expenditures, prompted former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama the following month to launch the study group Shohizai Kenkyukai with Yamada and Yorihisa Matsuno, who left the party to join Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) headed by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

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The Japan Times

Article 7 of 15 in National news

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