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National News

Hatoyama says he will resign at end of current Diet session

Yukio Hatoyama announced Dec. 3 that he will resign as president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) when the current Diet session closes Dec. 13.

"I have made up my mind to step down as party president. ... I must bear the responsibility for not being able to run the party smoothly," Hatoyama told an executive board meeting of the party.

The DPJ was earlier plunged into confusion when Hatoyama abruptly rerred to the possibility of forming a parliamentary group with the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. Later he went on to suggest that the DPJ and the Liberal Party should merge into a new party.

Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa responded by supporting the idea, but later canceled his scheduled talks with Hatoyama on Dec. 1 because the proposal met with strong objections from DPJ lawmakers.

Hatoyama's resignation may temporarily calm the serious disarray among DPJ lawmakers, but the nation's largest opposition party could still face internal divisions as it begins the search for a new leader. Currently, former DPJ Secretary General Naoto Kan and current Deputy Secretary General Katsuya Okada appear to be the top candidates.

Kan was defeated by Hatoyama by only a narrow margin in the party's presidential race in September, but Okada has wider support among younger lawmakers as well as conservative party members who backed Hatoyama, according to party sources.

Hatoyama has served as DPJ chief since 1999, but his clout as party president ironically declined after his recent re-election, and Hatoyama's grip on power weakened further after the party suffered humiliating losses in a series of Diet by-elections last month.

Hatoyama apparently wanted to turn his fortunes around by proposing the opposition alliance, but his strategy backfired.

Nevertheless, the party decided to create a panel to discuss measures to prepare for the opposition alliance, including policy issues, and build closer connections with the Liberal Party. The panel will work as a liaison to foster talks with other parties for a possible alliance.


民主党鳩山代表、辞任を表明

民主党の鳩山由紀夫代表は3日、国会会期末で代表を辞任する意向を表明した。自由党との合流・新党構想が党内の混乱を招き、辞任に追い込まれた形だ。



Shukan ST: Dec. 13, 2002

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