Watanabe resigns from LDP, cites rejected reform proposals

by Kazuaki Nagata

Making good on his threats, former administrative reform minister Yoshimi Watanabe resigned Tuesday from the Liberal Democratic Party.

Asked what was the most crucial reason for leaving a party he has belonged to for 12 years, Watanabe said that since the Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso was inaugurated in September the LDP’s reform initiatives have backpedaled and the party has just rubber-stamped the proposals of bureaucrats.

“I have given every effort to civil servant and administrative reforms, but those reforms are being watered down,” Watanabe told a news conference after submitting his letter of resignation.

“The LDP has gone back to the past. For me, it is intolerable,” said Watanabe, who said earlier in the day on a TV program that Aso should resign because he lacks public support.

“Unfortunately, the Nagata-cho district (site of the Diet) and Aso Cabinet currently are disconnected with the people,” he said.

Watanabe said he plans to form a “people’s movement” with people who share his views.

“Politics (should be) in the hands of the people, so I’d like to . . . (put) politics (back) in their hands again.”

On Jan 5, Watanabe submitted a statement featuring seven policy proposals, including calling an early general election, dropping the ¥2 trillion cash handout program from the second extra budget bill and promoting civil servant reforms.

He vowed to leave the LDP if his proposals were not sincerely and promptly considered.

Aso rejected them.

Watanabe has not spelled out his future plans or people he may look to cooperate with, saying that if he names names now those people would be compromised.