When the Democratic Party of Japan suffered a serious rift earlier this year over contentious war-contingency bills, the fate of the nation's largest opposition force hinged on Seiji Maehara, the DPJ's security policy chief.

The bills in question were forged by the government and the ruling coalition and include Maehara-brokered DPJ compromise points. Having cleared the Diet earlier this month, they give the government more power to deploy the Self-Defense Forces in the event of military emergencies.

DPJ executives, including policy chief Yukio Edano, President Naoto Kan and Secretary General Katsuya Okada, all trusted Maehara with the task of drawing up the party's own version of the bills, cajoling dissenters and negotiating with the ruling coalition, which had hoped to weaken the DPJ with the legislation.