A senior vice minister of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, Mineyuki Fukuda, said Sunday he will leave the ruling bloc to join a new party being organized by those close to Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike.
Kyoko Nakayama, leader of the small opposition the Party for Japanese Kokoro also met with Koike the same day and expressed an intention to join the planned new party, a source close to the matter said.
Fukuda, a senior vice minister of the Cabinet Office, said at a press conference he will leave the Liberal Democratic Party to run in the general election expected for next month with the new party, which could realign the opposition camp amid the dominance of the LDP-led coalition.
“I’m not meaning to criticize the LDP,” Fukuda said. “I’d like to create socially desirable human resources with Mr Wakasa.”
Masaru Wakasa, another LDP defector and close aide to Koike, said at the same news conference that more could leave the LDP to join the new party, which has also attracted opposition lawmakers including Goshi Hosono, who recently left the Democratic Party, the largest opposition struggling to regain public support under new leader Seiji Maehara.
Fukuda, a 53-year-old House of Representatives member in his third term, will convey his intention to the LDP on Monday.
First elected to the lower house in 2005, Fukuda was defeated in the 2014 general election in his constituency in Kanagawa Prefecture but clung to a Diet seat on proportional representation.
Also Sunday, Hosono said many voters believe it is risky to keep Abe in power while also considering the existing opposition parties as not becoming realistic alternatives.
“We’ll present a choice in the middle of them,” Hosono said on a TV program. He also said the new party will field candidates throughout the country.
“We’re not intending to be a third pole. We’re aiming to be the governing party,” Hosono said.