DPJ’s Asao to go independent

by Alex Martin

Upper House lawmaker Keiichiro Asao said Friday he will leave the Democratic Party of Japan to run as an independent in Kanagawa’s No. 4 district, where the party has already fielded a candidate of its own in the Aug. 30 Lower House election.

Asao, the shadow defense minister in the DPJ’s “next Cabinet,” stressed that the decision was not based on policy differences with the DPJ. Nevertheless, he left open the possibility of forming a new party with those “who agree with my policies.”

“I’m leaving all possibilities open at this point, but I don’t plan on joining anti-DPJ forces,” Asao said.

If the DPJ takes the helm of government and creates a coalition, Asao, 45, said he could try to create another force that would have a say in the bloc.

“I don’t have anybody specific in mind (to join forces with). It can be anybody as long as we share common policies,” he said.

According to previous media reports, Asao had been asked by DPJ Deputy President Ichiro Ozawa to run in Kanagawa’s No. 8 district, where the DPJ has yet to field its own candidate.

But Asao now will be crossing swords with former Zushi Mayor and DPJ candidate Kazuyoshi Nagashima and incumbent Jun Hayashi of the Liberal Democratic Party, among others.

“I honestly hesitated in making this decision — to leave the DPJ when it’s experiencing such a favorable wind,” Asao said.

“But I’m hoping that by showing such courage, others from different parties who are sensible and wish to cooperate with the DPJ will follow in my footsteps.”