National / Politics

In joint resolution, LDP and Komeito rebuke lawmaker Hodaka Maruyama over 'war' comment

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito on Tuesday jointly submitted to the Diet a resolution rebuking an opposition lawmaker who recently came under fire for suggesting Japan wage war with Russia to regain control over a group of disputed islands.

In the resolution, the ruling coalition said the comment made by former Nippon Ishin no Kai lawmaker Hodaka Maruyama “runs counter to pacifism” and “significantly undermines Japan’s national interest,” describing it as “absolutely intolerable.” The pair closed their resolution by urging him to “reflect seriously on” what he said.

Tuesday’s move by the ruling bloc followed a sterner measure taken last week by six opposition parties, including Nippon Ishin and the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which went as far as to demand he resign as a lawmaker.

In their resolution, the LDP and Komeito suggested Maruyama’s remark, although “unjustifiable,” doesn’t warrant a move by the opposition bloc calling for his resignation.

“Past resolutions urging a lawmaker’s resignation have all been submitted in response to cases of unequivocal, grave malpractices, and there has been no instance where such a resolution was driven by problematic remarks,” the ruling bloc stated in the resolution.

LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai told a news conference Tuesday that “we should be careful in taking away a (Diet member’s) status in a single sweep,” according to Kyodo News.

Coming at a time when the LDP itself is grappling with a series of blunders made by its lawmakers, part of the reason for the party’s reluctance to follow in the footsteps of the opposition is its apparent fear that things will “spiral out of control” if a precedent is set for the submission of such severe resolutions over gaffes, said Kazuhisa Kawakami, a professor of political science at the International University of Health and Welfare.

The LDP recently had to create a code of conduct in terms of how to avoid making headlines over verbal flubs.

Kawakami also said the fact the ruling and opposition blocs didn’t unanimously pursue a resolution seeking Maruyama’s resignation possibly avoided giving Russia a diplomatic advantage.

“If Japanese lawmakers made the gesture of an all-out apology by unanimously submitting a motion demanding the resignation of a lawmaker who said something provocative about Russia, that may have created a precedent that could be (taken advantage of) by Russia,” he said.

Maruyama, a House of Representatives lawmaker, has been roundly chastised for a remark he made earlier this month as he accompanied former Japanese residents of the disputed islands off Hokkaido on a visa-free trip to one of them.

In his conversation with the residents, a reportedly drunk Maruyama at one point provocatively asked, “Do you think there is any alternative to war (to recover the islands)?”

His gaffe was quick to trigger a barrage of public criticism, with Nippon Ishin swiftly moving toward stripping him of his party membership. Maruyama, for his part, has so far remained defiant, rejecting any calls to resign.