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Watanabe sacks Your Party exec Eda

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

The upheaval in the opposition camp shows no sign of letting up, as witnessed by the Wednesday sacking of Kenji Eda as secretary-general of the 36 Diet member Your Party, a move that may divide its ranks.

Amid the opposition disarray, the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc has gained momentum supported by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s high approval ratings.

This time last year the LDP was the main opposition force and the Democratic Party of Japan was in power. But Abe’s long-ruling LDP roared back to power in the December Lower House election, and the ruling bloc further solidified its gains by its huge win in the July 21 Upper House poll, leaving the opposition camp in tatters.

In a move seen as furthering this disarray, Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe proposed at a Wednesday meeting of its lawmakers reshuffling the party’s executives, including replacing Eda with policy chief Keiichiro Asao. Even though the lawmakers did not vote on the proposal, the party effectively approved it.

Watanabe is reluctant to align with other opposition parties, while Eda has apparently been pursuing a partnership with Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), which is headed by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

By removing Eda, Watanabe is expected to consolidate his power base to pursue his envisioned reforms, the nature of which were not spelled out.

“The trust between Eda and me has been broken. We have different views on how to proceed with issues such as political realignment,” Watanabe said. “Now that I have removed the source of the disharmony, I can focus on restoring party unity.”

Eda meanwhile said his goal was to reform the party, not divide it, claiming he was misunderstood. He also rejected the idea of leaving Your Party, which marks its fourth anniversary Thursday.

“It’s a pity that I was sacked just as the party reforms were about to take off,” said Eda. “I will try my best as a rank and file member to pursue the reforms, and help reorganize the political world for the next general election.”

Eda was one of the five founding members of Your Party, whose goals included bringing about political realignment. Even though Watanabe and Eda both represented the party equally, the two have recently been at odds over what reforms are needed and how to regroup the shattered opposition camp.

Eda met on the day of the Upper House election with then-DPJ Secretary-General Goshi Hosono and Nippon Ishin Secretary-General Yorihisa Matsuo and agreed to launch a study group for political realignment.

But Eda later claimed he had no intention of pushing for a new alliance and instead said he wants to proceed with reforms.