The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on Friday said it would suspend the membership of former Prime Minister Naoto Kan for three months instead of expelling him for publicly supporting a candidate not endorsed by the party in last Sunday’s upper house election.
On Wednesday, DPJ head Banri Kaieda asked Kan to leave the party because executives said he had seriously hurt the DPJ’s interests and credibility. But Kan refused and the DPJ leadership met again and decided on the suspension, TV Asahi reported.
Kan was one of the founders of the party along with former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Ichiro Ozawa—who have both long since quit the party.
Prior to the election, two candidates — Masako Okawara and Kan Suzuki — initially put their names forward to run on the DPJ ticket ahead of the start of campaigning on July 4. But the DPJ decided to support only one candidate— Suzuki — and Okawara’s name was removed from the roster. However, Kan threw his support behind Okawara and appeared with her at rallies in Tokyo. Neither Suzuki nor Okawara won a seat in Tokyo.
The DPJ has been in a state of disarray since Sunday’s rout in the election in which it only won 17 seats. On Tuesday, Secretary-General Goshi Hosono said he would be resigning in August to take responsibility for the election failure. On Friday, the DPJ named acting president Akihiro Ohata to succeed Hosono.
Meanwhile, another opposition party has had a shake-up at the top. Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima has resigned to take responsibility for the SDP’s dismal result in the election, in which it won only a single seat.