Rebels' leader prepares to make bid for power in Japan: Hata cultivates Socialists but says they must abandon radical policies

TSUTOMU HATA, the leader of the rebel faction within Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), seemed yesterday to be on the verge of forging an electoral pact with the main opposition party, the Socialists, which could make him the country's next prime minister. Mr Hata leads a group of 35 LDP rebels who turned against the government in a no confidence vote last Friday, plunging Japanese politics into turmoil.

Emergency sirens were blaring in the headquarters of the LDP in Tokyo as party officials tried to regroup their forces in the face of the most serious threat to their power in four decades. As a sign of their desperation the party unceremoniously ditched Noboru Takeshita, a former prime minister, from its list of candidates for the next elections. With calls for political reform coming from all sides, Mr Takeshita's link with financial scandals and right-wing mobsters was thought to be a dangerous liability to the party's image in the upcoming polls. He will run as an independent candidate.

Mr Hata's rebel group is expected to form its own party officially tomorrow. Another splinter group of 10 LDP members, who say they want to clean up politics after a string of corruption and gangster scandals, yesterday announced they were setting up their own party, the Sakigake, or pioneer party.

But attention is now focused on Mr Hata and the extent to which he can build political alliances against the LDP's formidable vote-gathering power. Mr Hata has said he hopes to field 100 of his own candidates for the 511 seats in the Diet (parliament), and will need strong support from other parties if he is to offer any real alternative to the LDP. His main target is the Socialists, who have 140 Diet seats, compared to the 278 seats of the LDP (before Friday's split).

In a speech to the central executive committee of the Socialist Party yesterday, Sadao Yamahana, the party leader, indicated that he would back Mr Hata for the prime minister's job after the next elections. This is an important endorsement for Mr Hata's faction, since they would lose a lot of their reformist appeal if they had to play second fiddle to the Socialists.

But still there will be problems in the alliance. A strong left-wing group within the party has managed to block any change in a series of radical policies most voters find unrealistic for modern Japan. For example, the Socialists still officially support North Korea against the South and are opposed to nuclear power, and to the upkeep of any military force at all.

Mr Hata has said that the Socialists must abandon these policies for any coalition to work. Analysts say it is more likely that the party will split into a left-wing fragment and a larger, more centrist group with whom Mr Hata could come to terms. The secretary-general of the Socialists, Hirotaka Akamatsu, described the radicals in his party as a 'facial mole' that could be 'surgically removed'.

The LDP, which knows its best chance of survival is to divide the opposition, yesterday jumped on the archaic left-wing policies of the Socialists. The Prime Minister, Kiichi Miyazawa, said their positions on defence, energy and foreign affairs were 'unrealistic'. Seeking to downplay Mr Hata's faction, he said: 'I am not able to leave Japanese politics to Japan's largest opposition party.' However, Mr Miyazawa is under threat, with a 9 per cent popularity rating.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried