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Lower House member Shinji Tarutoko on June 20 notified Shinshinto Secretary General Takeo Nishioka that he is leaving the largest opposition party, the first lawmaker to formally exit after the departure of former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa.

Tarutoko, a former member of the now-defunct Japan New Party, which Hosokawa founded in 1992, is a close aide to the former prime minister. Tarutoko said he took the action not because of any animosity toward Shinshinto leader Ichiro Ozawa, “but because I cannot leave Hosokawa alone.” He said he has no idea if other Shinshinto members would follow him in leaving the party.

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