Former state minister latest to join band of liberal defectors in Japan

16:12, April 05, 2010      

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House of Councillors member Yoshitada Konoike has expressed his intentions to leave Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), political sources revealed Monday.

Konoike, a former state minister, was elected to the House of Councillors for the first time in 1995, is expected to be the fifth parliamentarian to join a new political party to be established as early as Thursday by former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, who is also set to defect from the LDP, sources said.

The LDP's former Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma, now an independent, former LDP Acting Secretary-General Hiroyuki Sonoda -- himself likely to resign from the party shortly -- and former transport minister Takao Fujii, a House of Councillors member of the Liberals, will comprise the new formally designated political party, which as yet has no name.

Informed sources said that Yosano, Hiranuma, other LDP defectors and former independents, will meet soon to decide the party's basic policies and its official name.

Yosano said the new party would enter candidates for the upper house elections in July in both the proportional representation lists and some constituencies.

"If things continue as they are, the DPJ will have a majority in both houses of the Diet. Effective criticism in the upper house is vital for Japan's democracy," Yosano told reporters recently.

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