UTSUNOMIYA, TOCHIGI PREF. – Shizuka Kamei, a veteran lawmaker who left the ruling bloc in April in protest of the government’s push to hike the consumption tax, said Monday he will launch a new political party ahead of the Dec. 16 general election.
Kamei, 76, will team up with former farm minister Masahiko Yamada, who submitted a letter of resignation from the Democratic Party of Japan on Monday, to form the new party, which will oppose Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks.
Kamei said the party will be represented by five Diet members, including himself and Yamada.
At least five Diet members are necessary for a political group to register with the government as a national party.
Kamei was dismissed as head of Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), the junior coalition partner of the DPJ, in April after opposing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s plan to raise the consumption tax.
Kamei’s party will call for freezing the hike and for ending the nation’s reliance on nuclear power.
In addition to Yamada, former Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa and Lower House lawmaker Naoto Sakaguchi submitted their letters of resignation from the DPJ on Monday.
“The DPJ leadership is running the party in a way that will stir up conflict,” Ozawa said during a news conference.
“I will join Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) to change the central and local government system, and to stop rural regions from declining,” Sakaguchi said.
It was also revealed that Hiroshi Kawaguchi has submitted a letter of resignation from the DPJ, bringing the number of dissenters from the ruling party to 11 since last Wednesday, when Noda announced he would dissolve the Lower House for the election.
Both Ozawa and Sakaguchi are set to join Nippon Ishin no Kai, which is led by former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.
Meanwhile, Akihiro Hatsushika, who submitted his letter of resignation to the DPJ last week, said he will join a parliamentary group called Midori no Kaze (Green Wind).
The “third force” wave of political parties is hawkish “so we need a separate group that will put a stop to it,” Hatsushika said.
Tochigi governor returns
Tochigi Gov. Tomikazu Fukuda, backed by major opposition parties, won a third term Sunday amid lackluster voter turnout.
Fukada, 59, an independent supported by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito who in the campaign underscored his achievements in restoring the prefecture’s fiscal balance over the past eight years, beat Setsuko Nomura of the Japanese Communist Party by a large margin.
Voter turnout, however, stood at only 33.64 percent.
The Democratic Party of Japan did not have a candidate. This worked in Fukuda’s favor, and he also won support of mayors and business groups in the prefecture.