/

DPJ lawmakers OK Hosono’s exit, move to suspend Kan

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Disarray in the Democratic Party of Japan continued Friday as members approved the immediate resignation of Secretary-General Goshi Hosono, in an about-face to their president’s earlier decision to keep him in the post until the end of August.

The largest opposition group was also set to suspend the membership of former Prime Minister and DPJ chief Naoto Kan for three months and to strip him of the title of supreme adviser, as high-ranking members decided at a meeting Friday to take the matter to the party’s ethics committee.

“The secretary-general has to make important decisions now, and I should not be the one when I have already expressed my intention to resign,” Hosono told the plenary meeting of DPJ lawmakers. The DPJ’s acting president, Akihiro Ohata, was picked to replace him.

Hosono tendered his resignation earlier this week, but the party decided to retain him as secretary-general so he could at least conclude an internal review of the DPJ’s drubbing in last Sunday’s Upper House election, the worst since its inception in 1998.

The U-turn came after some party ranks reportedly called for Hosono to be sanctioned for holding a meeting the same day with his counterparts from the minor opposition groups Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party — Yorihisa Matsuno and Kenji Eda — to launch a “study group,” which was widely interpreted as an attempt to create a new party.

Hosono was further criticized for calling for a party presidential election during an executive meeting Wednesday, a move seen as intended to undermine current DPJ President Banri Kaieda.

An official, however, cited Kaieda as stressing that Hosono’s earlier-than-anticipated departure was completely unrelated to his meeting with the Nippon Ishin and Your Party secretaries-general.

As for Kan, other members blame him for the DPJ’s defeat Sunday in the Tokyo electoral district, as he broke the party line and backed a candidate the DPJ withdrew endorsement of just before the campaign started.

Earlier this week, the party was reported to be planning much harsher punishment for its former president by expelling or recommending that he leave the party, but members were unable to decide whether, or in what manner, to punish Kan.

The vacillation saw Kaieda come under fire for failing to exert decisive leadership.