Funada returns to ‘reform’ LDP

Hajime Funada, a former Economic Planning Agency chief, on Jan. 13 formally announced his intention to rejoin the Liberal Democratic Party, leaving behind Nijuisseiki (the 21st Century), a small parliamentary group he formed two months ago.”I have decided to return to the LDP to reform the party from the inside,” Funada said. Despite his stated zeal, his one-man crusade will be all but impossible to achieve, political observers say.Funada, 43, left the LDP in 1993 with dozens of others, including Ichiro Ozawa, saying they would work to reform the nation’s politics by forming a new party to counter the LDP. Many of them are now members of Shinshinto, the largest opposition party, which is headed by Ozawa.Funada, too, was a member of Shinshinto but after repeatedly criticizing Ozawa’s party management as high-handed, he left before the Oct. 20 Lower House elections. Although Funada once sought to form a new party with Yukio Hatoyama, now a coleader of the Democratic Party of Japan, he ultimately decided not to cooperate with him, citing differences in basic policy matters and forming Nijuisseiki after the election along with four lawmakers elected as independents.