• Kyodo News

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Seiji Mataichi, deputy chief of the Social Democratic Party, tendered his resignation from the party post last month in the belief that the small opposition party is incapable of reasserting itself under current leader Mizuho Fukushima, according to party sources.

While Mataichi, a member of the Upper House, intends to remain in the party for the time being, the move raised questions about Fukushima’s ability to rejuvenate the party after it left the ruling coalition in May over its opposition to the Futenma base relocation.

Fukushima tried unsuccessfully to change his mind during a meeting Thursday in the Diet, the sources said, adding she is holding onto his resignation letter.

The SDP has already been beset by the departure of Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a Lower House lawmaker and former senior vice minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism who was once viewed as a party leader candidate. Mataichi, a former labor activist, maintains close ties with Ichiro Ozawa, former secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, and Azuma Koshiishi, the DPJ’s caucus leader in the Upper House.

The 66-year-old Mataichi has taken the position that the SDP should rebuild a partnership with the DPJ and look into rejoining the ruling coalition. Following the SDP’s disappointing performance in the Upper House election last month, Mataichi asserted that he and the other senior party executives should step down to take responsibility and show their determination to reinvigorate the party, according to the sources.

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