Ozawa loyalists quit key government, DPJ posts to protest Noda’s tax hike push


Four senior lawmakers close to Democratic Party of Japan kingpin Ichiro Ozawa resigned from their government posts Friday in protest after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda submitted a contentious bill to the Diet to raise the sales tax.

Senior vice health minister Yoshio Maki, state secretary for internal affairs Toru Kikawada, senior vice education minister Yuko Mori and vice internal affairs minister Ryo Shuhama all tendered letters of resignation after Noda’s Cabinet approved the legislation earlier in the day.

Six more Ozawa loyalists also quit senior DPJ posts the same day to protest the sales levy bill, including Deputy Secretary General Katsumasa Suzuki and Vice Secretary General Takeshi Hidaka.

The other four were all vice policy affairs chairmen: Tetsuhisa Matsuzaki, Tetsuji Nakamura, Hokuto Yokoyama and Takeshi Shina.

The coordinated resignations are seen as a strategic move by the Ozawa camp to pile more pressure on Noda amid the internal power struggle over his proposed tax hike, which Ozawa fiercely opposes.

Later in the day, DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi indicated he will try to persuade those who resigned to change their mind and remain at their posts.

“I’d like to make arrangements and ask” them to reconsider their resignations, Koshiishi said.