Japan Opposition Party's Ichiro Ozawa Unexpectedly Resigns
Sunday, November 4, 2007 Posted: 08:35 PM JST
Ichiro Ozawa, leader of Japan's opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) since April 2006, unexpectedly announced his resignation today. "I caused political confusion over Prime Minister Fukuda's coalition proposal," Mr. Ozawa told a news conference. "I have therefore decided to resign from my post as president."
The DPJ rejected an invitation from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to join the coalition on November 2. Prime Minister Fukuda had hoped to break the impasse in Japan's Diet that has existed since the DPJ won a majority in the Upper House in July. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) still controls the Lower House.
The current LDP coalition came to power on September 26, but has yet to pass a single item in parliament. It even failed to get a bill approved to extend the Indian Ocean naval mission, which refueled US ships supporting the war in Afghanistan. The six-year operation expired Thursday after the DPJ refused to agree to a renewal. The party insists that refueling warships violates the country's pacifist constitution.
The DPJ executive committee voted to reject the proposal for an alliance on the grounds that the party should defeat the LDP at the ballot. "I took the committee's decision as a vote of no confidence," Mr. Ozawa said.
However, he submitted that the DPJ can't yet stand on its own feet. Ozawa said that "there is a skepticism among the public of the party's ability to lead the nation.'' But he believed that his resignation "would be a step for the party to deepen discussions on its policies, meet people's requests, and become a strong political party.''
The increasing turmoil and gridlock in Japanese politics strongly increases the possibility of early elections.
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