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LDP's Koga, Tanigaki factions to merge by spring.

TOKYO, Dec. 20 Kyodo

Two Liberal Democratic Party factions led respectively by Makoto Koga and Sadakazu Tanigaki have decided to merge by spring next year to create a third major group within the ruling party, faction members said Thursday.

The factions with a combined membership of 61 were set up after the 2000 split of a major faction led by Koichi Kato over Kato's failed attempt to join an opposition-sponsored censor motion against the then struggling administration of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

While the faction headed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, to which Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda belonged, is the largest in the LDP with more than 80 members, the second largest group led by Yuji Tsushima has 68 members.

Koga and Tanigaki, who chair the party Election Committee and Policy Research Council, respectively, are expected to hold a meeting in January to reach a formal agreement, the members said, adding that the timing of the merger will be decided in light of developments in parliament.

As Koga's faction has 45 members, and Tanigaki's 14 members, aside from faction chiefs who have nominally left the groups in assuming their current key party posts, Koga is expected to head the new faction, they said.

In a general faction meeting Thursday, Koga won approval for his proposal to proceed with merger talks with Tanigaki, ''including the specific timing.''

The merger policy was confirmed also in a general meeting of the Tanigaki faction, with Tanigaki telling faction members, ''We will have to advance talks with the Koga faction next year.''

The envisaged merger was first suggested in May by the Tanigaki faction, and gained momentum when both groups supported Yasuo Fukuda as new leader in the party presidential election in September.

Some members of the Koga faction, including former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshihide Suga, who backed Taro Aso in the party leadership race, had been cautious about the idea, but faction heavyweights have been persuading them, the members said.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Dec 22, 2007
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