Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa walked away from Shinshinto on June 18, dealing a fresh blow to the already troubled leadership of party chief Ichiro Ozawa.

At a hastily arranged news conference, Hosokawa said his departure from the largest opposition party is a bid to “break the deadlock in the nation’s politics” — a hackneyed phrase often used by opposition lawmakers in similar situations. He said further realignment of the parties is needed so lawmakers can live up to public expectations for reform.

Hosokawa became prime minister in 1993 when a coalition of several parties ended the Liberal Democratic Party’s 38-year monopoly on power. He stepped down in April 1994 amid a surfacing financial scandal.

He said he is pessimistic because there is “little prospect” for Shinshinto to function as a stimulant for political realignment. He did not offer any clear reasons why he, one of Shinshinto’s founding members, gave up on the party.

Hosokawa’s departure comes amid suspicion that he was involved in a dubious deal to land an Upper House seat for Tatsuo Tomobe, who allegedly bought his way into the Diet and now faces trial for massive fraud involving his political group Orange Kyosai Kumiai. Political analysts said that while Hosokawa’s departure would not immediately have a substantial impact on the nation’s politics, it would further shake up Shinshinto. Since Ozawa became party president in December 1995, it has been plagued with frequent defections.

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