Sunday, November 4, 2007 6:32 pm
DPJ leader Ozawa hands in resignation over grand coalition controversy
Ichiro Ozawa, president of the largest oppositional party, the Democratic Party of of Japan (DPJ), announced Sunday he had offered to resign from the post to “take responsibility” for the political turmoil caused by the talks of a grand coalition between DPJ and the leading Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japanese media reports.
DPJ rejected Saturday what was reported to have been an invitation from Prime Minister and LDP leader Yasuo Fukuda to join the ruling coalition. It has however also been suggested that it was actually Ozawa who first made the proposal, and then asked Fukuda to make it seem as if it was his idea, to help Ozawa convince his party to accept the offer. Ozawa has also been criticized for not turning down the proposal immediately, but instead first taking the proposal to a party executive meeting, where it was shot down.
An Asahi Shimbun poll made before the resignation announcement on Sunday morning had also showed that 44 out of 47 DPJ constituencies did not support the grand coalition scheme.
LDP has been unable to pass a single law in parliament after the DPJ’s successful upper house election in July, when they became the largest party in that house. The most controversial bill, and the most prestigious to the LDP, was a bill that would have extended the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) mission to aid U.S. vessels in the Indian Ocean. The bill was not passed, resulting in the Self-Defense Forces cancelled their mission on Thursday.
Ozawa said Fukuda had promised him the LDP would give up that very bill if the DPJ would join the ruling coalition.
“I consider (the DPJ refusal to accept Fukuda’s offer) as a vote of non-confidence for me as a leader of the party,” Ozawa said at a press conference. “I am not saying I am leaving the party,” he continued, “but I will take my time to think about the future of my political career.“
Ozawa stated he believes that a grand coalition would have been a shortcut for the DPJ to take over the administration, and went on to complain that the party is not likely to win public support if it continues on the current path of keeping the Diet in deadlock, according to a Kyodo News report.
Ozawa also mentioned he had handed in his resignation to DPJ’s Chief Secretary Yukio Hatoyama.
When asked if his resignation would not be a burden to the party in the next lower house election, Ozawa replied he would do his utmost, but as an ordinary member of parliament in the next election.
Ozawa was elected DPJ president in April last year after the previous president, Seiji Maehara, resigned to take responsibility over a DPJ member who had mistakenly presented a fabricated e-mail which accused a senior ruling party legislator of questionable dealings in connection with a scandal involving the Japanese internet company Livedoor.
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Japan News Review
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