Goshi Hosono, secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Japan, expressed his intention Tuesday to resign by the end of August to take responsibility for the party’s massive defeat in Sunday’s Upper House election.
Turning a deaf ear to the entreaties of other members of the party leadership, including President Banri Kaieda, Hosono told reporters it wouldn’t be right for the secretary-general, who is in charge of the election, not to take responsibility.
“We were only able to gain 17 seats, the lowest number since the party was founded, and we lost a seat in the Tokyo constituency,” said Hosono. “It is not acceptable for no one to take responsibility. I am the one who is responsible.”
Of the 121 seats contested in the triennial election for the upper chamber, the DPJ gained 17, a record low. The party, whose previous low was 26 seats, had 44 before the election.
Hosono first signaled his intention to resign Sunday night, as the media were reporting the Liberal Democratic Party’s overwhelming victory and the DPJ’s rout.
“As the secretary-general, I should take all the responsibility for the election,” he said on television.
On Monday, senior DPJ members, including Kaieda, Hosono and Azuma Koshiishi, head of the party’s Upper House members, met to discuss a response to the election outcome.
At the meeting, all the participants except Hosono agreed to maintain the current leadership team and work to revive the DPJ, which fell from power in the House of Representatives election last December. Hosono was urged by the other participants to stay on as DPJ secretary-general.
“You shouldn’t run at a time like this,” one of the participants told reporters after the meeting.
Hosono said on television later Monday that, as the DPJ’s leader, Kaieda has the authority over personnel affairs, leaving open the possibility that he will honor calls to stay in office.
Within the DPJ, however, there is smoldering frustration with the current leadership. “The leadership team should all be replaced,” a junior DPJ member said. Kaieda could face increased pressure to step down if Hosono leaves the leadership team.
No Ishin heads roll
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) co-leaders Toru Hashimoto and Shintaro Ishihara can stay at their posts despite the party’s disappointing results in Sunday’s Upper House election, Diet executives of the party said Tuesday.
The executives plan to propose and formalize this arrangement during a Nippon Ishin meeting Saturday in Tokyo.
Hashimoto, the polemical mayor of Osaka, said Sunday night the party’s showing at the polls was nothing to be proud of. He has indicated he will leave the decision about whether he should resign until Saturday’s meeting.
Nippon Ishin fielded 44 candidates for Sunday’s Upper House election and won only eight seats. The total number of votes for the party fell considerably from the December Lower House election.
During a news conference Tuesday, Yorihisa Matsuno, secretary-general of the party’s Diet members’ group, declined to give details of Tuesday’s meeting except to say the executives agreed Hashimoto and Ishihara, a former Tokyo governor, should remain in their posts.
“We have confirmed that we will retain the current (leadership) system. That’s (the proposal) we will bring” to Saturday’s meeting, Matsuno said.
Nippon Ishin had been expected to win more seats in the election, but in recent months public support in media polls has plunged, in large part amid the huge outcry over Hashimoto’s remarks defending Japan’s wartime “comfort women” military brothel system.
Discord within Nippon Ishin is believed to have further damaged the party’s reputation before the election.
Nippon Ishin was formed last fall based on the popularity of Hashimoto, who chose Ishihara as a co-leader to win support from voters in eastern Japan.
Few party members appeared willing to criticize or call for the replacement of the two top leaders after the election.