Noda faction names party Conservative

Former Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda and 25 other lawmakers have left the Liberal Party and formed the Conservative Party.

“We would like to continue to be members of the coalition government,” Noda said Monday at a meeting in a Tokyo hotel to launch the new party.

More than half of the 50 Liberal Party members who occupy Diet seats attended the meeting. They selected female Upper House member Chikage Ogi, 66, as party chief.

The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party agreed later in the day that the new party will become a member of the ruling bloc.

Transport Minister Toshihiro Nikai, another former senior member of the Liberal Party, told a news conference the same day that he would join Noda’s new group.

“It’s very regrettable to walk a different path (from Ozawa),” Nikai said, adding that he still respects the Liberal leader and his policies.

Nikai also said that he intends to continue to act as transport minister and director general of the Hokkaido Development Agency. He hopes to continue working toward tackling the problems that have arisen and may yet arise due to Mount Usu’s eruption in Hokkaido.

Meanwhile, Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa did not clearly convey the decision to withdraw his party from the coalition at a separate party meeting earlier in the day.

Ozawa had previously planned to announce his party’s withdrawal from the coalition during the meeting.

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi announced Saturday that his LDP and New Komeito would end their alliance with the Liberal Party. The three-way coalition lasted six months and gave Obuchi a huge majority in the Diet.

Despite the Liberal Party’s departure, however, the LDP-New Komeito alliance still controls majorities in both houses of the Diet.

The Liberal Party formed a two-way coalition with the LDP in January 1999, and New Komeito subsequently joined in October the same year.

During the 15-month period in which his party was in the coalition, Ozawa threatened to pull the Liberal Party out on a number of occasions.