Four more lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) have notified Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi that they are leaving the party in opposition of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, but it’s not because his bill to increase taxes was approved by the Lower House. Well, that’s not the only reason at least. Hirosato Nakatsugawa, Yasue Funayama, Kuniko Koda, and Kuniko Tanioka are leaving in protest of the prime minister’s decision to restart the nuclear plant in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, despite a rapidly growing public opposition.
Turning in their party resignations on Wednesday, they made public statements that disagreed with restart of two of Japan’s nuclear reactors, as well as Prime Minister Noda’s bill that will double the nation’s 5% sales tax by 2015. Noda has stood unwavering behind his tax bill, stating that the increase is necessary to slow Japan’s snowballing public debt, and prevent the collapse of the social security system. But many DPJ members feel this is a betrayal of their promise not raise taxes that the party made just prior to winning government control in the 2009 elections.
Nakatsugawa also commented that he was leaving the party because of how Prime Minister Noda is handling the dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands. He was specifically disappointed in the lack of action taken against Uichiro Niwa, the Japanese ambassador in China who publicly stated his disapproval of the attempts by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara to buy the islands from their private owners.
In combination with the Ichiro Ozawa-led exodus two weeks ago to form a new political party, the number of those who have left the DPJ now stands at 55. Prime Minister Noda and the DPJ are now holding on by a string to their majority control of the Lower House. If Ozawa’s new party gains enough support to call for general election, Noda won’t have much of a leg to stand on.