SENDAI (Kyodo) Former Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa suggested Sunday that the ruling party would suffer a crushing defeat if the House of Representatives is dissolved and a general election is held under Naoto Kan’s leadership.

“If it comes to a dissolution and general election under the way things are, we might have to battle the election amid a completely different wind compared with two years ago,” Ozawa said at a DPJ lawmaker’s party in Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture.

Ozawa was referring to the Lower House election in August 2009, in which the DPJ clinched a landmark victory that ended the conservative Liberal Democratic Party’s nearly uninterrupted grip on power, which lasted for more than half a century.

“We never know how the political situation will develop,” Ozawa said. “It seems that the possibility of a (Lower House) dissolution and general election becoming a reality is extremely large.”

He said Kan’s team must humbly accept public criticism that the “flag of ideals” it put forth earlier has disappeared and tackle politics in a spirit similar to the time when the DPJ was looking to topple the LDP.

The growing rift between pro- and anti-Ozawa lawmakers in the DPJ has prompted its leadership to take action to prevent Ozawa’s supporters from criticizing Kan and his government, including asking members to be careful about what they say during TV or radio appearances.

The leadership distributed a document dated Feb. 17 to all party lawmakers, asking them to notify the secretary general’s office beforehand of which programs they are scheduled to appear on and the themes of each one, according to DPJ sources.

The document, bearing the names of DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada and Sumio Mabuchi, chairman of the party’s Public Relations Committee, also warned party lawmakers to be careful not to make remarks that could work to the advantage of the opposition parties, the sources said.

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