Two new opposition parties emerged Thursday from the breakup of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party).
The party’s former Osaka group, led by Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto, was set to become the larger of the two.
As of Thursday evening, 37 of Nippon Ishin’s 62 Diet members said they would stay with Hashimoto, while 23 cast their lot with Ishihara. Two lawmakers said they would remain in the Diet as independents.
Party leaders met Thursday evening to discuss details of the split. At his regular press conference Thursday, Hashimoto said members of the Osaka group had joined Nippon Ishin for a specific reason.
“There are many ‘pure’ members in the Osaka group of Nippon Ishin no Kai who joined in order to merge Osaka,” he said, referring to unifying the city and the prefecture.
He added, “We don’t have the money and we don’t have the connections needed to operate an opposition party that could be run like the LDP. So we need to create a new style of party management.”The Osaka faction is expected to merge with Yui no To this summer and is also working with Your Party to achieve some sort of political alliance.
At a news conference Wednesday, Shintaro Ishihara, 81, the co-leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai, stopped short of saying what his new party’s policies might look like. However, it is expected to be more nationalistic than the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Aside from Ishihara, the 22 founding members of the new party include former Suginami Ward chief Hiroshi Yamada, who has disputed claims that Japan forced Asian women into wartime brothels, and former education minister Nariaki Nakayama, who has said the 1937 Nanking Massacre by the Imperial Japanese Army never took place.
Many members of the Osaka faction are seen as being more pragmatic about Japan’s relations with East Asia, preferring to put trade relations above historical matters. They are also less intent on making constitutional revision a top priority.