Ex-LDP heavyweights launch new political party in Japan

15:41, April 11, 2010      

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Former Japanese Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano and former Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma in alliance with three other lawmakers announced the launch of their new political party on Saturday to counter ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

The new party, officially named "Tachiagare Nippon'' in Japanese, or Sunrise Party of Japan (SPJ) in English, will be headed by Hiranuma, 70, who left the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 2005 and has since been an independent.

"Today's politics, which is conducted by the DPJ, will ruin this country," Hiranuma said at a news conference held to officially announce the new party's launch.

"'I have risen up to work hard for this precious Japan by staking my entire political career on it," he added.

Saturday's new party launch came after Yosano, 71, the newly formed SPJ's co-leader and others defected from the main opposition LDP believing the current leadership lacks the impact to affect change and has floundered since last year's defeat by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) ended a monopoly over government, almost unbroken since the 1950s.

Yosano speaking at Saturday's news conference said the SPJ's stance was "anti-DPJ" and "non-LDP," adding that, "The DPJ has no philosophy or thought on politics, while the LDP doesn't have a strong enough spirit to fight as an opposition party."'

One reason for the recent spat of LDP defections is the apparent discontent over President Sadakazu Tanigaki's leadership skills.

"He's a good man, honest, gentle, brainy -- but what he says does not have an impact and does not cause damage," Yosano said in a TV interview recently.

The other founding SPJ members are former LDP Acting Secretary- General Hiroyuki Sonoda, 68, former transport minister Takao Fujii, 67, and former Cabinet Office Senior Vice Minister Yoshio Nakagawa, 72. Fujii and Nakagawa themselves are upper house members.

Political sources revealed that the Sunrise Party of Japan has been founded on a premise of undermining the ability of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to consolidate their power in the House of Councilors election this summer.

Yosano said on a TV Tokyo program earlier on Saturday that the party aims to field more than 10 candidates in the proportional representation portion of the upcoming election in July and may field candidates for the election, not just in the Tokyo constituency but also in electoral districts in other urban areas, such as Kanagawa, Saitama and Osaka prefectures.

With five parliamentarians officially involved in the new party the SPJ will be eligible to receive state support and benefits as an official political entity.

According to the party's members their manifesto will involve pushing for drastic tax reforms, including a rise in the consumption tax rate, and measures to remedy the nation's ailing fiscal health and modernize the social security system.

The party said in a statement that it "aims to accomplish both 'security' and 'growth' at the same time through jobs created through deregulation and consumption tax revenues."

The party, true to its highly conservative ethos, said in a statement that it strongly opposes giving foreigners living permanently in Japan the right to vote in local elections and granting spouses the choice to continue using their original surnames.

Additionally, the party will commit it's resources to creating a new constitution, the members said.



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