The Liberal Democratic Party decided Wednesday to suspend Koichi Kato, the LDP’s former secretary general, from his current party post for three months as punishment for abstaining from a Diet vote on a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
The LDP’s Party Ethics Committee, which has 18 members, agreed to temporarily relieve Kato of his duty as head of a special party committee on nonprofit organizations, panel members said.
Kato’s abstention from the Diet vote on March 5 was his second act of rebellion against the Mori administration.
In a failed bid to oust the prime minister, Kato and former LDP policy chief Taku Yamasaki declined to vote on a no-confidence motion in November. No punishment was imposed by the party upon either of them on that occasion.
In the March vote, seven other LDP members — including six members of Kato’s faction and an unaffiliated Katsuei Hirasawa — abstained, but the panel decided to reprimand rather than punish them.
Mori, who is also LDP president, survived the March 5 no-confidence motion with a majority of LDP members and those of its coalition allies — New Komeito and the New Conservative Party — voting against it. He signaled his intention to resign shortly afterward, however, during a closed meeting with top LDP officials.
Calls for his resignation had previously been mounting following a string of verbal gaffes and scandals.
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