Ichiro Ozawa, one of the most influential Japanese politicians, decided to quit the ruling party together with a group of 51 other lawmakers, as a protest against the decision of raising the sales tax.
Ozawa, 70-year-old, is dubbed the “destroyer” and “Shadow Shogun” by Japanese media for instigating splits in several political parties in the last twenty years.
Forty members of the lower house and 12 of the upper chamber are set to resign from the party led by the current prime minister Yoshihiko Noda.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan will keep its majority in the lower house after the departures. The majority will however become very fragile, since the party will only have 249 members in the 480-member lower house, compared to 289 members before this latest scandal.
Ozawa argues that the announced tax hike contradicts campaign promises made when the Democrats came to power three years ago. The party promised then to ease the bureaucracy and cut wasteful costs before raising taxes, Ozawa says.