October 28, 2017
TOKYO- Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara said Friday that he will resign before a special Diet session starts on Wednesday, to take responsibility for a split of the major Japanese opposition party just before Sunday's general election.
Maehara announced the decision at a general meeting of DP lawmakers.
At the meeting, the DP revoked a Maehara-devised plan to merge the party into Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's Party of Hope and decided that the DP will stay on as an independent party.
Maehara has been under fire since the Party of Hope suffered a setback in the election for the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of the Diet.
"I want to apologize," Maehara told the meeting. "The result is everything, and I deeply feel responsible for that."
Before the election, the DP approved Maehara's proposal not to field official candidates but to seek the Party of Hope's official endorsement for its members in the poll.
Some DP members did not join the Koike party and formed the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which performed well in the election and became the second-biggest force in the Lower House, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The day's DP meeting was attended by 59 of the party's 64 lawmakers--44 in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber, and 15 members who won Lower House seats by running as independent candidates while maintaining their DP membership, including Maehara and former DP leader Katsuya Okada.
Okada is widely viewed as a key candidate to succeed outgoing Maehara.
The party also decided to maintain its funds, estimated at over 10 billion yen, as well as its network of regional chapters, party members in local assemblies and citizen members and supporters across Japan. Jiji Press
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