TOKYO, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- A joint study group was launched Tuesday following a mass resignation spearheaded by former Your Party lawmaker Kenji Eda in protest of the party leader's cozy relationship with ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the group looking to realign the opposition bloc to better stand against Abe and his ruling coalition.
The new group is comprised of Eda, himself former secretary- general of Your Party, former main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) secretary-general Goshi Hosono and Yorihisa Matsuno, a senior member of the Japan Restoration Party.
The new study group has named itself a "gathering for breaking established interest" and its first meeting Tuesday saw some 100 lawmakers attend.
The group is eyeing forming a new opposition party and traversing ways the opposition camp can better deal with the LDP- led coalition and Abe at a time when concerns are rife the prime minister is operating in a manner described by political pundits as "overly autonomous" and "skirting democratic ideals."
At the inaugural meeting, Hosono stated that it was of great importance for the group to share a similar ideology going forward and through mutual understanding and trust, it would be possible to bring about a change of government.
Eda remarked that reaching a common understanding of policies could lead to the political realignment of the opposition bloc and the creation of a new party.
He along with 13 other party members tendered their resignations on Monday in a calculated move to diminish Your Party' s efforts, under leader Yoshimi Watanabe, who has steered the party's stance closer to that of Abe and his LDP.
Eda and Watanabe's relationship had been deteriorating for an extended period of time, with Eda's defection from Your Party not wholly unexpected by political insiders.
Watanabe in a recent interview said he would not make any attempt to persuade Eda and his coterie to stay, however the party leader described the defections as being "extremely abnormal" and said that those dissenters should give up their seats in parliament.
Of those who resigned from the party, eight held seats in the more powerful lower house of parliament and six in the upper chamber.
The departure from the party will likely weaken the power base of Your Party in parliament and could lead to more defections from the party, as the party remains split over Watanabe's backing of Abe's controversial secrecy bill, which is opposed by most opposition parties and the public in general, political commentators said.
In addition, opposition parties and the public have voiced concern that the new secrecy law will take away the public's right to know, while dishing out harsh penalties on those deemed to have leaked state secrets.
Against mounting political and public protest to the bill, Abe said the law sought not to take away the public's right to know, when it comes to sensitive information relating to diplomacy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage.
"There have been concerns throughout Diet deliberations that the law will broaden the scope of secrets without limits, deprive the public of its right to know and threaten people's daily lives. I say here with certainty that these are not true at all," the prime minister told a news conference Monday.
However, Abe conceded that he had failed to communicate these ideas effectively before, but said that Japan is lagging behind other nations on matters of state secrecy laws, regarding their control and declassification.
The secrecy bill being steamrolled through both houses of parliament against the opposition bloc's will and in spite of nationwide protests to the bill, including vigils and physical demonstrations of thousands around the Diet building last week concerned that their right to know will be diminished under the new law, has seen support for Abe and his Cabinet drop, according to the latest nationwide polls, and fears about the law rise.
Despite Abe's attempts to quell mounting fears about the new secrecy law, analysts, scholars, journalists and political experts have all expressed concern that the government can act with absolute impunity -- in a manner reminiscent of Japan's militaristic past.
The public's growing concern was revealed in a recent nationwide survey, with a massive 82.3 percent of the public polled stating they want the new law to be revised or abolished, while 70.8 percent said they feel worried about the law.
Regarding the way the law was steamrolled through both houses of parliament, 68.5 percent said they do not think it was appropriate, while 25.1 percent said they think it was.
Eda maintains he wants to realign the opposition camp to better challenge the ruling coalition especially on matters regarding the controversial secrecy bill.
Eda himself abstained from the lower hose vote on the secrecy bill last month and has stated that under the current leadership, the nation's democratic ideals could be undermined.
He said that smaller opposition need to join forces against the dominance of the LDP-led coalition and said that theoretically a new party could be formed by Eda's coterie collaborating with the Japan Restoration Party.
He said that such a move would effectively make this new party the dominant opposition party in politics in Japan, overtaking the now main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and as the dominant opposition force in parliament would have the biggest clout to defend against the LDP's browbeating of smaller opposition parties in parliament.
Japan's PM vows to reduce fears about secrecy law as support rate drops, opposition defectors eye realignment
TOKYO, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday tried to dispel public concern about the controversial secrecy law and how the government plans to designate and deal with what it determines to be a state secret.
Against mounting political and public protest to the bill, Abe said the bill sought not to take away the public's right to know, when it comes to sensitive or pertinent information relating to diplomacy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage. Full story