The chief rival to Japan’s prime minister tried his best to wreak havoc Monday by quitting the ruling party to protest a tax increase and encouraging other lawmakers to do the same.
But the defection of power broker Ichiro Ozawa and 49 of his loyalists failed to strike a critical blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose party emerged from this long-anticipated rebellion with its majority intact. Noda now commands a smaller party but also a more unified one, political experts here say, and no longer must he worry about placating the most vocal critic of his policies.
Ozawa, 70, is perhaps Japan’s most divisive politician, a master of Tokyo’s backroom deal-making, and he had hoped to spark a larger defection, which would have been more difficult for Noda to shrug off. Had 55 or more ruling-party members in the lower house handed in resignations, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) would have lost its majority and Noda would have been susceptible to a no-confidence vote that might have kicked him out of office.
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