Japan's ruling party stung by Ozawa walkout

"Shadow Shogun" Ichiro Ozawa and his supporters on Monday stormed out of Japan's ruling party in protest at a sales tax hike, in a move that reduces, but does not overturn the government's majority.

The 50 lawmakers -- 38 from the lower house and 12 from the upper chamber of parliament -- submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Ozawa said.

"We left the DPJ today ... intending to form a new party," Ozawa told reporters.

"The DPJ under Prime Minister Noda is no more the DPJ that achieved a power change" in 2009 when it ended the Liberal Democrats' nearly unbroken half-century reign, Ozawa said.

Exactly when the new party will be born will be discussed in a few days, Ozawa said, adding that its platform is likely to include opposition both to the tax hike and to restarting nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima atomic crisis.

The widely-anticipated bolt is a blow to Noda, but is not big enough to deprive him of his majority in the lower house, which has the power to appoint prime ministers.

Many of the defectors were among the 57 DPJ lawmakers who voted last week against legislation to double consumption tax to help pay off Japan's mountainous debt.

Noda offered an apology for the "worries" caused to voters and supporters over the party split, but affirmed his pledge to enact the tax hike bills.

After months of furious horse-trading that brought the two largest opposition parties on board, the bills cleared a lower house ballot easily and passage through the upper house looks to be in little doubt.

Noda, who has staked his premiership on a tax rise widely believed to be a sensible way for Japan to begin plugging its fiscal hole, had warned he would deal with party dissidents "strictly, following party rules".

However, the leadership had been seen soft-pedalling the rebellion, not wishing to upset the balance in a party that is strung together by loose alliances and often struggles to find any binding ideology.

Ozawa, a former leader of the DPJ, had until Monday headed the largest faction within the party he is credited with leading to power in 2009.

Over four decades, Ozawa has earned the nicknames "The Destroyer" and "Shadow Shogun" for his record of creating and wrecking political alliances and striking behind-the-scenes deals that advance his agenda.

His formidable war chest and wide-ranging connections have enabled him to build a significant powerbase in parliament, with a large number of lawmakers owing tribute because of his role in securing their seats.

The 70-year-old Ozawa, who led the DPJ from 2006 to early 2009 shortly before the party was swept to power, had been somewhat knocked off his axis by a political funding scandal that forced him from the front line.

He was cleared in April of charges of illegal use of political funds and has since mounted something of a comeback.

However, his power to wreak havoc is diminished, and although he wields influence in political circles, he is deeply unpopular with the public at large, for whom he represents the big money politics that has so bedevilled Japanese governance for years.

Ozawa's particular complaint this time has been Noda's plans to double consumption tax from the current five percent by 2015.

Noda has warned that the future of the world's third-largest economy rests on tackling its huge public debt, which at more than double GDP, is proportionately the world's largest.

But opponents of the tax rise say any increase in household bills would derail Japan's uncertain economic recovery.

Analysts say Ozawa's move is unlikely to prove fatal to Noda in the short-term, but the party as a whole is in trouble.

"This is the same terminal condition the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) experienced" when the party gave up power in 2009, said Koji Nakakita, professor of politics at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.

Nakakita said the DPJ may strip Noda of his premiership when it holds its leadership election in September in a desperate bid to regain public support before going to the voters.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • FBI confirms death of top militant in bloody Philippine raid
    FBI confirms death of top militant in bloody Philippine raid

    The FBI confirmed on Thursday that a senior Malaysian militant with a $5-million reward on his head was killed in a January raid in the Philippines that also left 44 police commandos dead. The confirmation provides some validation for the botched raid that plunged President Benigno Aquino's administration into crisis and jeopardised efforts to end a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency. "After a thorough review of forensic data and information obtained from our Philippine law enforcement …

  • Micronesians appeal for help after devastating typhoon
    Micronesians appeal for help after devastating typhoon

    Residents in storm wrecked areas of Micronesia appealed for help on Thursday as a clean-up began on the worst affected islands after Super Typhoon Maysak swept through the region on its way towards the Philippines. "We can do with all the help we can get," Courtney Stinnett at the Truk Stop Hotel dive shop on the main island of Weno in Chuuk state told AFP. A state of emergency has been declared in Chuuk, the largest region in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) where five people were …

  • Super typhoon weakens after entering Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A super typhoon blamed for the deaths of at least four people on islands in the western Pacific Ocean has weakened after reaching Philippine waters and is expected to further lose strength as it approaches the country's northeastern coast, officials said Thursday. …

  • From Space, Typhoon Maysak's Eye Looks Like a Black Hole (Photo)
    From Space, Typhoon Maysak's Eye Looks Like a Black Hole (Photo)

    It seemed like a black hole from a Sci-Fi movie," NASA astronaut Terry Virts wrote on Twitter. Virts and his fellow astronauts have been posting pictures of the typhoon, which is expected to hit the Philippines this weekend if it doesn't change course. "Commands respect even from space," wrote Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency who launched into space with Virts in November. As of 11 a.m. EdT today (1500 GMT), the super typhoon was 223 miles (359 km) …

  • Muslim group calls for universal peace
    Muslim group calls for universal peace

    As predominantly Catholic Philippines and the rest of the Christian world observe the Holy Week, peace advocates like the Young Muslim Professionals Network (YMPN) are appealing to Filipinos of various creeds and persuasion to embrace the universal message of kindness, love and peace. The group issued the call as peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front teeter due to the Mamasapano incident where members of the rebel group killed 44 police commandos on a …

  • Ex-WB exec pushes BBL passage
    Ex-WB exec pushes BBL passage

    A former World Bank official has warned of dire consequences for the Philippines if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not passed into law. Nigel Roberts, former director on conflict, security and development, said that more conflict could occur without the BBL. “It takes about 15 years to get back to pre-conflict GDP growth rates, and 20 years for trade to recover,” Roberts said in his blog at the World Bank website. The World Bank estimated that economic losses amounted to $10 …

  • Despite typhoon, summer is here
    Despite typhoon, summer is here

    Super Typhoon Chedeng roared toward Luzon as the weather bureau announced the official start of summer in the country yesterday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced yesterday the official start of the dry or summer season in the country due to the termination of the cold northeast monsoon. “The general public is advised to take precautionary measures to minimize heat stress and take note of the need in optimizing the daily use of …

  • Noy told: Just answer the questions
    Noy told: Just answer the questions

    Just answer the 20 questions. The Makabayan bloc of seven party-list representatives made this appeal to President Aquino yesterday after his spokesman claimed the Chief Executive has already answered most of the questions posed by the militant lawmakers regarding the Mamasapano incident. For instance, he said the President has not yet explained why he allowed then suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima to take the lead in Oplan Exodus or the mission to …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options