Exodus of lawmakers thins Japanese government's majority
July 3, 2012 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is the latest in a string of politically fragile Japanese leaders.
- NEW: Two of the Japanese lawmakers on the list of those leaving say they are staying
- The departing parliamentarians are led by the influential Ichiro Ozawa
- They say they are protesting the prime minister's plan to double the sales tax
- It leaves the government with 251 out of 480 seats in the lower house
Tokyo (CNN) -- Fifty rebel lawmakers resigned Monday from Japan's governing party, weakening the majority of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda as he pushes a controversial increase in the sales tax through parliament.
Led by the influential Ichiro Ozawa, 40 members of the lower house and 12 members of the upper house have left the Democratic Party of Japan, said Kenji Yamaoka, a senior lawmaker allied with Ozawa.
However, two of the lower house lawmakers on the list announced by Yamaoka -- Megumu Tsuji and Takeshi Shina -- subsequently said they were not leaving the party, their offices said.
The exodus is in protest over Noda's plan to double the sales tax from 5% to 10% to try to tackle Japan's huge public debt, Yamaoka said. The lower house passed the measure last week despite opposition from the group led by Ozawa, a former party leader known for his political power-broking.
Japan approves controversial sales tax
The departures Monday whittle down Noda's majority in the lower house, leaving the Democratic Party of Japan with 251 out of 480 seats. In the upper house, which is still to vote on the sales tax legislation, the party now holds 92 out of 242 seats.
Noda, who took office in September, is the latest in a string of politically fragile Japanese leaders. He is the sixth prime minister in the six years since the departure of Junichiro Koizumi, who was in power for more than five years.
The Ozawa-led exodus has fueled speculation about a possible vote of no confidence being introduced against Noda. But Ozawa has so far failed to lure away enough Democratic Party of Japan members to threaten Noda immediately.
If a vote of no confidence were to be called and Noda lost, he would have to step down or call a snap election.
Ozawa said last week that he expected a general election could be called "in the near future."
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.