Just as it was expected over the weekend, political heavyweight, and former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader, Ichiro Ozawa has stated that he is leaving Japan’s ruling political party, and 51 other party members will be following him. A letter of resignation on behalf of Ozawa and his faction was submitted to Azuma Koshiishi, the party’s Secretary general, this morning. It is widely believed their next step will be form a new political party, but either way, this is yet another headache for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda as he as long struggled to pass legislation to raise Japan’s sales tax.
A 52-member departure will still leave the DPJ with a majority number of seats in the Lower House, albeit a significantly smaller majority. If 55 members or more would have broken from the party, the majority would’ve been lost and possibly led to a general election, or Noda’s loss of prime minister title. Out of the 51 departing members, other than Ozawa, 40 serve as higher positions in the Lower House, making choices on who becomes prime minister, and the other 11 are members of the Upper House.
This action by Ozawa is another example of why he has been given the nickname “the destroyer.” In his more than 20 years as a high-profile politician, he has been the cause of a number of breaks in political parties. If the defecting faction had remained in the DPJ, they would still be looking at possible punishment for going against the party in the Lower House vote on the tax increase.