The Liberal Democratic Party leadership is losing ground in its efforts to unite the party. The departures of former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano and former acting LDP secretary general Hiroyuki Sonoda — following the March exit of former Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama — makes LDP leader Sadakazu Tanigaki’s task of reconstructing the once mighty party even more arduous.

In a magazine article published last month, Mr. Yosano accused Mr. Tanigaki of lacking determination to topple the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, and said that he would leave the LDP unless Mr. Tanigaki rejuvenated the LDP leadership. Although the approval rating of the Hatoyama administration is plummeting, Mr. Yosano and Mr. Sonoda appear to think that the LDP will be unable to find success in the coming Upper House election.

They plan to form a new party together with former International Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma, a former LDP member who is now an independent. Mr. Hiranuma is to serve as the head of the new party.

Affairs within the new party will not necessarily be smooth. Besides the requirement that it have at least five Diet members to receive state subsidies, one wonders whether ideological congruity exists between the three men. The policy priority of both Mr. Yosano and Mr. Sonoda is financial reconstruction through a consumption tax increase, but Mr. Hiranuma is most interested in maintaining conservative values and Japanese traditions, and revising the Constitution.

Mr. Hiranuma left the LDP in 2005 due to his adamant opposition to the postal service privatization pushed by the Koizumi administration. However it was Mr. Yosano, as the LDP’s policy chief, who was responsible for promoting the privatization policy.

The creation of yet another opposition party may serve to complicate and therefore dilute opposition efforts to topple the DJP. Indeed, the new party may even bolster the DPJ by siphoning votes from the LDP.

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