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Japan's ruling DPJ defectors launch new party

(Xinhua)

08:56, January 05, 2012

TOKYO, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Nine lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) who submitted their resignations from the party last month launched a new party called Kizuna on Wednesday to counter plans by the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to raise the nation's sales tax and join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade consortium.

Akira Uchiyama, a former parliamentary secretary of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, who was elected three times as a House of Representatives member from the Chiba Constituency, will head the party, with Koichiro Watanabe, a two- term lower house member, assuming the role as the party's secretary-general.

Juntaro Toyoda, elected from the proportional-representation Kinki district, will head up the party's Diet affairs committee, while Yasunori Saito from Miyagi Prefecture will be the party's policy chief, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

Saito is a member of an intraparty group led by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, while his counterparts belong to a large group headed by former DPJ President and party power broker Ichiro Ozawa.

With the exception of Uchiyama and Watanabe, the other seven members are all in either their first or second terms as Diet members.

The nine defectors all believe that Noda's planned sales tax hike contravenes the DPJ's 2009 manifesto and are opposed to the Noda administration's plans to be involved in negotiations on Japan's involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade arrangement.

The party has also spoken out about the government's recent decision to resume construction of the controversial Yanba Dam in Gunma Prefecture, claiming this also runs contrary to the DPJ's policy pledges and manifesto that saw the ruling DPJ oust the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party from power in 2009.

The launch of the new party will deal another blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda who is grappling to hold together an increasingly fractious party at a time of increasing opposition pressure to dissolve the lower house of parliament and call a snap election over his controversial sales tax hike plans.

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