Blunt and regularly controversial lawmaker Shintaro Ishihara is stepping down as co-leader of Japanese opposition group the Japan Restoration Party. In a move that will split the JRP in two, the former Tokyo governor says that he is aiming to get back into a role where he can help the country rewrite its postwar pacifist Constitution, and that would be by stepping down from the party he co-led with the similarly outspoken Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.
Ishihara made this announcement on Thursday, just a day before he agreed with Hashimoto to sever ties and break the party in two. At a news conference, Ishihara reminded the public that he left Tokyo’s gubernatorial position in 2012 and re-entered national politics with a goal of rebuilding Japan through a new constitution. Ishihara maintains that the current constitution was hardly written by Japanese lawmakers for the country – he says that it was written by the United States so that they can have some semblance of control over Japan. “I want to correct it no matter what,” the 81-year-old lawmaker said. Ishihara, not unlike Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is known to politicians and the Japanese public for his nationalistic leanings, and maybe a little more severe in his ways than Abe.
Hashimoto and Ishihara parted ways on Wednesday as the former Tokyo governor continued to disagree with a merger that Hashimoto was pushing – that is, to join the small Yuinotoh party. Ishihara declared that he finds Yuinotoh chief Kenji Eda’s perspective on Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense as unacceptable. Eda has been verbal in his reluctance to re-interpret Japan’s current constitution. Ishihara is reportedly taking 10 to 15 members of the party with him to form a new one, while Hashimoto will probably continue with the planned merger to make up the lost numbers.
[via Global Post]
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