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Four years of conservative-Socialist cooperation as a ruling bloc came to an end Monday after the Social Democratic Party formally broke from the tripartite alliance with the Liberal Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake.

SDP head Takako Doi met in the morning with her alliance counterparts, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of the LDP and Masayoshi Takemura of Sakigake, to inform them of the decision. “As of today, the tripartite alliance is over,” Takemura said at the meeting.

The breakup is unlikely to have a significant impact on the national political landscape. The LDP has already regained a simple majority in the Lower House. Although it still lacks a majority in the Upper House, the SDP has pledged to cooperate on pending legislative matters submitted to the current Diet session.

While the three leaders agreed on the formal breakup of the alliance, which dates back to the SDP-led government of former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, Hashimoto later told reporters that they will continue talks on pending policy-related issues.

“There are still some bills drafted by the three parties that have yet to be submitted to the Diet. In addition, there are some other policy-related issues that we’ve completed discussions on but haven’t yet written up in the form of bills,” he said.

Later in the day, secretaries general and policy affairs chiefs of the three parties agreed to continue discussions on 10 issues, including implementation of measures to compensate Minamata mercury disease victims.

Hashimoto expressed appreciation for the three parties’ efforts over the last four years on policy implementation, and repeatedly voiced his gratitude for the SDP and Sakigake’s cooperation.

Doi stressed the achievements of the SDP first as a member of the coalition government and then as a non-Cabinet ally. “Each party of the alliance worked to reach agreement on policy measures and to implement them,” Doi said. “It was a great experience for us.” She added that the SDP will make use of the experience even as an opposition force.

Opposition camp parties were cool in their response to the ruling alliance’s breakup. Yukio Hatoyama, deputy secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters that both the SDP and Sakigake bear responsibility for allowing the LDP-led government to implement its failed economic policies.

Kazuo Shii, secretary general of the Japanese Communist Party, said at a news conference that if the SDP does not vote for a no-confidence resolution, it will be a clear sign that the breakup was simply an act to gain the support of voters before the Upper House election.

Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary general of Shinto Heiwa (New Peace Party), said the two parties’ departure from the alliance came much too late.

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