DPJ loses nine in just three days

Kyodo

Three lawmakers said Friday they were exiting the Democratic Party of Japan, bringing the total to nine who have left or declared their intention to jump ship since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced Wednesday he was dissolving the Lower House.

The three are Eriko Fukuda, from the Nagasaki No. 2 district, Ben Hashimoto, elected in the Tokai proportional representation block, and Akihiro Hatsushika, from the Tokyo No. 16 district.

They had been suspended by the party for two months after voting against Noda’s consumption tax hike in June.

Hatsushika criticized Noda’s support for Japan joining the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact.

“The current DPJ is a different party from the one that took power” in the 2009 Lower House election, he said.

Hatsushika said he plans to join one of the new parties that will compose a “third force” to challenge the DPJ and Liberal Democratic Party, but he did not clarify which party.

Abe vows to fight hard

Shinzo Abe vowed Friday to wage a “historic battle” to win next month’s general election as the opposition camp geared up for the campaign.

“We must capture victory,” the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party said at a meeting of LDP executives. “That is our mission to the public.”

Friday’s dissolution of the Lower House by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda came amid plunging public support for the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, which in 2009 ended more than 50 years of almost continuous rule by the LDP.

“Both the LDP and the public waited for this day for three years,” Abe, who for a year was prime minister when the LDP was in power, told reporters as he pledged to “fight fair and square for the party’s policies.”

Ichiro Kamoshita of the LDP expressed hope that the party will convice the public it is best qualified to lead the country.

Other parties are also getting ready.

“Our party must be ready to take the lead in efforts to revitalize Japan,” Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of LDP ally New Komeito, said at a caucus of his party’s Upper House lawmakers,

Meanwhile, Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party, came out fighting.

“Whether the social security reform or the timing of the dissolution — it has been based on bid-rigging by the DPJ, LDP and New Komeito, with the public having no say in the matter,” Fukushima said. “The Lower House dissolution is just like a coup by the prime minister.”