Shizuka Kamei, the longtime archenemy of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, kicked off speculation Tuesday by denying he intended to topple the Koizumi Cabinet in the ongoing struggle to scrap the postal privatization bills.

“I haven’t uttered a word to say that we’re trying to topple the Cabinet,” the Liberal Democratic Party’s former policy chief said in a surprising step back from earlier remarks.

“When all things about the bills are settled, we’d give full support for the Koizumi Cabinet,” Kamei told a special meeting of the faction he heads.

But Kamei did not withdraw his opposition to the postal privatization bills.

As one of Koizumi’s most powerful opponents to postal privatization, Kamei has been demanding the Cabinet resign en masse if the bills are scrapped in the final vote, which is expected to be held Friday in the Upper House.

Kamei’s faction has reportedly been split into two groups — those who are following Kamei and those who are supporting privatization.

This situation has fueled speculation about the intent of Kamei’s sudden remarks — Does Kamei really want to support Koizumi or is he trying to bring his faction together?

But Koizumi told reporters Tuesday he would regard anyone — including Kamei — as a traitor to his administration if they oppose his postal privatization plan.

“But I want to ask (Kamei)” what his real intentions are, Koizumi said with a wry smile.

Depression cited in Nagaoka suicide

Lawmaker Yoji Nagaoka, who was found hanged at his home in Tokyo and died in a hospital later Monday, was seeing a doctor and receiving medication for depression from late last year, investigators and other sources said Tuesday.

Antidepressants were found at his home in Setagaya Ward, they said.

Nagaoka, 54, regularly complained of being unable to sleep, according to staff at his office.

Nagaoka went to bed late Sunday after telling his wife he would sleep early because he was tired, the investigators said. He was found hanged from a stair-rail by a necktie, they said.

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