TOKYO -- Six of the 13 legislators belonging to the Group of Independents (GI), a parliamentary group in the House of Representatives, have merged into a lower house alliance led by the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP).
Hiroshi Ogushi, secretary-general of the GI, called CDP Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama on Dec. 18, saying that six GI members wanted to join the CDP-led alliance. In response, the CDP approved their membership at an executive board meeting later the same day.
The six splinter members are Ogushi, former finance minister Jun Azumi, former education minister Masaharu Nakagawa, former acting leader of the now-defunct Democratic Party Kenji Eda, former construction minister Kishiro Nakamura and lower house legislator Takahiro Kuroiwa.
"I'd like to create an axis of forces that can fully rival the (ruling) Liberal Democratic Party," Azumi said, explaining the reason for his transfer to the CDP-led alliance. Speaking about the consumption tax hike from the current 8 percent to 10 percent scheduled for October next year, Azumi said, "I'm opposed to a consumption tax (hike) that includes a reduced tax rate." The CDP had made an objection to the sales take increase as a condition for joining the alliance.
Another six GI members, including former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and group leader Katsuya Okada, are also planning to switch to the CDP-led alliance early next year. One remaining member, former Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, will not follow suit.
CDP leader Yukio Edano hailed the new members, saying, "I'm grateful that people with various talents are joining us."
(Japanese original by Shuhei Endo and Hiroshi Odanaka, Political News Department)