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The government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided Friday to consider legislation that would force Diet members who are elected as a party’s proportional representation candidate to step down if they leave their party, LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki said.

Embattled lawmaker Muneo Suzuki, elected as an LDP proportional representation candidate, is still a House of Representatives member although he left the party in March.

“Basically, Suzuki should have given up his Diet seat when he left the party,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda during a regular news conference. “It is a loophole in the electoral system.”

Yamasaki expressed his intention to consider the issue in the party’s electoral system division.

LDP heavyweight Mikio Aoki said it is a legal loophole if such lawmakers can remain in the Diet even after quitting the party.

Fukuda suggested that Suzuki ought to resign from the Diet of his own accord.

“Basically, if one was elected on the LDP roster (in the proportional representation portion of an election) and then left the party, I would say that this person should resign (as a lawmaker) as well,” Fukuda told the regular news conference.

Fukuda, however, came out against the opposition’s attempt to adopt a Diet resolution to force Suzuki from his seat.

“I doubt that the Diet can decide whether to make somebody resign as a lawmaker,” Fukuda said.

Reacting to the way the Suzuki investigation is unfolding, top LDP leaders have distanced themselves from the case, saying it is a personal matter for Suzuki.

“This is an issue that he (Suzuki) himself should decide on,” Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters when asked to comment on the investigators’ raid of Suzuki’s office and home Thursday.

Asked how he feels about his own responsibility as LDP president, Koizumi said: “He has already left the LDP.

“By law, lawmakers from constituencies and those elected through proportional representation have the same status. There should be no discrimination there.”

Suzuki was elected as a Lower House member on the LDP’s proportional representation roster.

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