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Three opposition parties said Wednesday they will merge Friday to form a new party with an old name in Japanese politics: Minseito, literally “Democratic Politics Party.”Former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata announced the name for the new party, to be formed by Kokumin no Koe (Voice of the People), From Five and Hata’s Taiyo Party. Minseito was picked from among several candidate names in a general meeting of Diet members of the three parties, Hata said.The name apparently comes from Rikken Minseito, a powerful party in prewar Japan that won a landslide election victory. Its head, Osachi Hamaguchi, was elected prime minister in 1929. It was commonly known as Minseito for short.The new party will be far smaller than Rikken Minseito. It will have 39 legislators: nine in the Upper House and 30 in the Lower House, making it the fifth-largest Lower House bloc.The politicians decided to launch a panel headed by former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, who leads From Five, to study policies targeted ultimately at assuming government power, officials of the three parties said. “Japan is in a serious situation,” Hata said. “We should be determined to herald a new era (with new policies).”Kokumin no Koe chief Michihiko Kano, a former state minister, was appointed the new party’s secretary general. Former Transport Minister Keiwa Okuda and former Justice Minister Megumu Sato were named supreme advisers, while former Home Affairs Minister Hajime Ishii and former Environment Agency chief Wakako Hironaka were named deputy leaders.

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