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Former People's New Party lawmaker switches allegiance to DPJ.

TOKYO, July 22 Kyodo

A former lower house member of the People's New Party has amicably switched to the Democratic Party of Japan, demonstrating the close ties between the two opposition parties ahead of the next month's general election, their leaders said Wednesday.

Masaaki Itokawa will run in the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election in the Fukui No. 2 constituency in Fukui Prefecture on the DPJ ticket, they said.

Itokawa, 34, like all 480 members of the lower house, effectively lost his seat the previous day following the lower house dissolution.

''We want to work on electoral cooperation (with the People's New Party) as much as possible to realize a change of government,'' DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama told a news conference.

Hailing Itokawa's move, Hatoyama said his party will do its utmost to support Itokawa's reelection campaign. Itokawa's change of allegiance came about at the request of the Fukui Prefecture chapter of the Japanese Trade Union Organization, a powerful backer of the DPJ.

Tamisuke Watanuki, who heads the People's New Party, joined Hatoyama and said the upcoming election should focus on the privatization of the nation's postal services. ''I want to make this (election) one to clarify the problem, by working in step with the Democratic Party.''

Watanuki's party was formed in 2005 by defectors from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who opposed the privatization proposal, which had been pushed by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Itokawa won the lower house seat in the September 2005 general election for the first time from a proportional representation block that includes the Hokuriku region.

''I want to work hard so that I can become a bridge between the DPJ and the People's New Party,'' Itokawa told the news conference.

The DPJ is hoping to form a government if it wins a majority in the lower house together with other opposition parties.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jul 27, 2009
Words:310
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