Disillusioned Upper House lawmaker looks to leave SDP

Kinuko Ofuchi, a House of Councilors member from the Social Democratic Party, submitted a letter of resignation Monday to the SDP’s Niigata prefectural chapter over her dissatisfaction with the party’s handling of political activities.

Top officials of the prefectural chapter are negotiating with the party’s national leaders about whether to accept her offer.

In a statement sent to the media, Ofuchi, 56, said, “At present, an increasing number of people are being turned away from the existing political parties. I hope to continue my activities while seeking the birth of a political force around which a wider spectrum of citizens can gather.”

According to SDP sources, Ofuchi is apparently dissatisfied over the party’s rejection of her idea to form a parliamentary grouping within the Upper House.

Earlier this month, SDP Upper House member Yoko Tajima resigned from the party partly over its handling of issues regarding North Korea’s abduction of Japanese.

Ofuchi apparently decided to wait until Sunday’s by-election for the Niigata No. 5 constituency was over to submit her resignation to avoid distraction.

Ofuchi, who was first elected in 1989 and is serving her third six-year term, recently resigned as head of the party’s Upper House caucus because she was unable to dissuade Tajima from quitting the party.