Diet ranks eye party status with Hashimoto

Kyodo

Diet members from the ruling and opposition parties and a fledgling political group led by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto may join forces to form a new political party ahead of the next general election, lawmakers said Tuesday.

The move came after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said last week he will dissolve the Lower House and call a general election soon after the Diet passed his prized bill to double the consumption tax to 10 percent by 2015. The legislation was enacted last Friday.

According to the lawmakers, the bipartisan group of Diet members from the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and the smaller Your Party is considering merging with Hashimoto’s Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka).

The group shares similar goals with Hashimoto’s camp, which is pushing to speed up decentralization to give more power to regions.

The group of lawmakers has more than members, including former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno of the DPJ, Lower House member Kenta Matsunami of the LDP and Upper House member Shinji Oguma of Your Party. The group was launched in March.

Under their charter, unveiled by Matsunami, their secretary general, the group is pursuing constitutional revisions with an eye to introducing direct elections of prime ministers and integrating both Diet chambers.

Hashimoto’s group, which has no sitting Diet members, is believed to be seeking official party status. To do so, it must take in five or more current Diet members.