Three lawmakers are leaving Japan's main opposition party to form a new party with two independents, domestic media reported on Thursday, amid talk of more such splintering that could change the face of Japanese politics.
Deadlock in parliament, where the opposition controls the upper house and can delay bills, has sparked talk that the major parties will fragment and new parties form, although this new party will not have the numbers to change the balance of power.
Some of the five upper house lawmakers had already been voting with the government occasionally, and the main opposition Democrats and their allies will still control that chamber, allowing them to delay legislation proposed by the governing coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
But the move could herald similar developments in the lead-up to a general election that must be held by September 2009, an analyst said.
"Such people hope to hold a casting vote (in parliament) after the next election, but whether small parties will gain much support is another story," said Yasunori Sone, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo.
Defectors were also likely to leave the LDP given its stale image and flagging support from voters, he said.
Upper house members Yasuhiro Oe, Hideo Watanabe and Yumiko Himei resigned from the Democratic Party and planned to set up the new group with Hiroyuki Arai, a former LDP member, and Shimpei Matsushita, who had been affiliated with the Democrats until last July, Kyodo news agency said.
Oe and Watanabe are outspoken critics of Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa, a veteran strategist sometimes criticised as too authoritarian. Ozawa is expected to win another term as party chief next month after possible rivals decided not to run.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's support ratings are languishing at around 30 percent, and many expect the ruling bloc to lose a hefty number of seats in the next election, if not its majority.
Speculation is simmering that Fukuda, or a successor if he falters, will call a snap election later this year or early in 2009 to try to win a mandate to break the political deadlock that is stymying government moves in areas ranging from security to tax reform.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Ağustos 2008, 13:56