All of the Liberal Democratic Party members who voted against Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s postal privatization bills in the House of Representatives should leave the party when running in the Sept. 11 general election, LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe said Monday.
But Takebe denied reports the party would formally demand that the rebels leave before official campaigning kicks off Aug. 30, citing a lack of time to complete the necessary procedures.
“(The rebels) should know that if they run (as independent candidates) while being a party member, they will eventually be subject to penalization by the (party’s) Committee for Penalty Discipline, which will be held after the election,” Takebe said in an interview.
“Therefore, (we) want each of them to act sensibly and leave the party before running as an (independent) candidate.”
The LDP’s No. 2 man also justified the decision to place official rival candidates in the rebels’ districts, saying the electorate needs a way to either support or oppose postal privatization.
But this strategy won’t apply to the Hiroshima No. 6 district, where Takafumi Horie, president of Internet firm Livedoor Co., will run as an independent against Shizuka Kamei, one of the leading foes of postal privatization.
“This general election is meant as a national plebiscite to decide (the fate of) postal privatization,” Takebe said.
Koizumi, who is LDP president, compared his predicament with that of Galileo Galilei, the ancient astronomer who showed the truth of the Copernican system, the theory that the Earth and planets revolve around the sun, but was found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition.
Shortly after the House of Councilors’ rejection of the postal bills on Aug. 8, Koizumi dissolved the powerful lower chamber and dubbed his move the “Postal and Galileo Dissolution” a few days later.
Takebe said the LDP and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, must win more than a combined 241 seats, excluding Hiroshima No. 6, to secure a chamber majority so the postal privatization bills can be submitted to an extraordinary Diet session later this year.
Prior to dissolution, the LDP had 250 seats of the 480-seat chamber and New Komeito had 34. Those who voted against the postal bills accounted for 37 of the LDP’s 250 seats.
While four of the 37 have given up on the Sept. 11 race, the rest have been forced to run without official LDP backing.
Should the election clearly show the electorate supports postal privatization, Takebe said he “firmly believes (that) will create an environment for the Upper House to pass the bills.”
Even if the coalition wins a majority to keep Koizumi in office, he has no intention of extending his term as LDP president, which ends in September 2006, Takebe said.
Asked about two new parties recently formed by the LDP dissidents, Takebe said he felt such movements seemed “strange” to some extent and noted that some reports singled out Ichiro Ozawa, a powerful member of the Democratic Party of Japan, as the one pulling the strings.
“We won’t adopt the underhanded horse-trading that has overrun (the nation’s political center of) Nagata-cho, but we want to gain support by promoting a new LDP,” he said.
Takebe said that, in addition to New Komeito, the LDP will close ranks with other postal privatization supporters and may team up with like-minded members of the DPJ after the election.
“There’s no possibility (for us) to form a coalition with the DPJ as it is now,” he said. But the LDP could team up with DPJ members if and when they launch a new party that shares principles and policies common with the LDP.
“The DPJ seems like a mixture” of lawmakers with different policy goals, he said, arguing that the main opposition group is incapable of approving privatization because it is backed by government and public workers’ unions. “But (I) can say the LDP is changing from a mixture to a compound through this dissolution.”
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