The anti-nuclear Tomorrow Party of Japan has already disintegrated.
After about a month filled with failure, disappointment and humiliation, party founder Yukiko Kada and Lower House veteran Ichiro Ozawa decided to part ways, splitting the party into two groups on Dec. 28.
Kada, the governor of Shiga Prefecture, will lead whatever is left of the Tomorrow Party of Japan, while Ozawa is expected to play a leading role in Seikatsu no To (Life party).
The two politicians both emphasized in a news conference in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, that the breakup was amicable.
Kada formed the party on Nov. 27, just before campaigning started for the Lower House election, hoping to galvanize the many parties that were espousing anti-nuclear policies.
But under the slogan of “graduation from nuclear power generation,” the party failed miserably in its first test; most of its incumbent lawmakers lost their Lower House seats in the Dec. 16 election.
“I feel a big responsibility because I was unable to fulfill the people’s expectations with a (sufficient) number of votes,” Kada said at the news conference. “I am reflecting on the fact that I was unable to use Mr. Ozawa’s capabilities sufficiently due to my shortage of abilities.”
Ozawa said that although the party had split up, the two groups still pursue the same direction on such issues as nuclear power generation.
“Both of us should cooperate and make efforts to achieve our goals,” Ozawa said.
Before the Tomorrow Party of Japan was established, Ozawa indicated it would be in the best interests of his People's Life First party to join forces with a politician with a clean image.
Another political veteran, Shizuka Kamei, who had left the People’s New Party, and Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura also joined Kada’s group, leading to the creation of the Tomorrow Party of Japan.
Despite Ozawa’s reputation for running effective election campaigns, the Tomorrow Party’s preparations for the Lower House election proved insufficient. It vowed to phase out nuclear power within 10 years but did not specify how it would achieve such a lofty goal.
Before official campaigning started on Dec. 4, the Tomorrow Party had 61 Lower House members. After the votes were counted, it had only nine.
Following that disaster, Kada decided not to give Ozawa an important party post. Ozawa and lawmakers close to him then decided to leave the party.
Of the Tomorrow Party’s 17 lawmakers, including Upper House members, only one, Lower House member Tomoko Abe, stayed with Kada, who is not a Diet member.
With only one Diet member, the Tomorrow Party does not meet the legal condition of “having at least five Diet members” to be regarded as a political party, meaning it will not be represented in the Diet.
“Ozawa stuck to the idea of splitting the party within this year. By ousting Kada as early as possible, he wanted to secure ‘seito-kofukin’ (public funding for the political party) for the year 2013,” an aide to Kada said.
Ozawa, long known as a “destroyer” of political parties, is considering making a comeback in the Upper House election next summer by cooperating with opposition parties to counter the now-ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
In particular, Ozawa is eyeing cooperation with the Democratic Party of Japan, the party he left earlier this year over differences on tax policy.
In the Dec. 26 final-round of voting in the Upper House to choose the new prime minister, all eight lawmakers of the Seikatsu no To voted for DPJ leader Banri Kaieda.
“Various parties will cooperate to counter a huge power (the LDP),” Upper House lawmaker Yuko Mori, who currently heads the Seikatsu no To, said in the Dec. 28 news conference in Otsu.
The party currently has 15 lawmakers, including Ozawa.
In the DPJ presidential election in August 2011, Kaieda received the full support of the intra-party group headed by Ozawa. Kaieda, who was seen as an Ozawa puppet, lost to Yoshihiko Noda in that election.
In the DPJ presidential election held on Dec. 25 this year, Kaieda obtained the support of Azuma Koshiishi, chairman of the DPJ’s Upper House caucus, who has been close to Ozawa. Kaieda won that election.
“We have to cooperate with other opposition parties to prevent the ruling LDP and New Komeito from obtaining a majority in the Upper House. We will make broad cooperative relations (with other parties),” Kaieda said, when asked about possible cooperation with Ozawa’s group.
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