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November 4, 2007
Japan's Opposition Leader Resigns
The head of Japan's Democratic Party resigned suddenly today, taking responsibility for "confusion" caused by his considering a power sharing proposal from the majority:
Democratic Party President Ichiro Ozawa's resignation added further turmoil to Japanese politics during a major standoff between the government and opposition.In Japan, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been in power almost continuously since 1955. But earlier elections cost the majority the upper house of the Japanese Diet and there has been a stalemate in parliament since then. Mr. Ozawa was considering the power sharing arrangement with LDP in hopes of short cutting the election process. In the end, too many conditions would have been imposed and he rejected the offer.
Days earlier, his party blocked government efforts to extend a naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan. Mr. Ozawa said he was resigning to take responsibility for causing confusion within the party for failing to immediately reject a power-sharing proposal from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday.
"I caused political confusion over Prime Minister Fukuda's coalition proposal," Mr. Ozawa told a news conference. "I have therefore decided to resign from my post as president." Mr. Ozawa discussed the possible alliance with the DPJ executive committee, which voted to reject the proposal later Friday.
Mr. Fukuda told reporters he was trying to break a gridlock in the Diet, Japan's parliament. Some DPJ leaders later criticized Mr. Ozawa, saying the party should defeat the ruling Liberal Democratic Party at the ballot and that an alliance was out of the question.
Early elecions are a possibility but it appears that the LDP will be able to cobble together some kind of coalition to stay in power.