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2ND LD: DPJ chief Maehara says won't seek reelection unless views unified+
[January 14, 2006]

2ND LD: DPJ chief Maehara says won't seek reelection unless views unified+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Jan. 14_(Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING OZAWA'S COMMENTS IN 5-7TH GRAFS)

Seiji Maehara, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said Saturday he will not run in the party's September presidential election if he fails to unify views within the party on foreign affairs, security and other basic policies.

Maehara earlier indicated his plan to consolidate party views by June along the lines of his idea on defense issues and his notion that China poses a threat.

Maehara said on a Nippon TV program that he has yet to consider whether to seek reelection. But he said his decision "hinges on whether I can consolidate views on foreign affairs, security and domestic politics, as I have pledged to do."

"If I cannot consolidate them, I will not be able to continue representing the party as president," he said.

Meanwhile, former DPJ Vice President Ichiro Ozawa is showing strong readiness to run in the presidential election.

"I will not evade my responsibility if DPJ members agree that our party will not defeat the ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party in elections without my leadership," Ozawa told reporters in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture.

"I do not want to be an opposition party chief anymore, but it is now the top priority to prepare to defeat the two governing parties," he said.

On the same day, Takahiro Yokomichi, the House of Representatives vice speaker from the DPJ, criticized Maehara's view that China's military expansion is a threat.

"He has made remarks as if he were a young officer of the Japanese military before World War II," Yokomichi said in a speech in Sapporo.

"We have to change this line," Yokomichi said, referring to the party's presidential election and indicating a candidate to rival Maehara is necessary.

Yokomichi said former DPJ President Naoto Kan and Ozawa agree with him on that point.

Yokomichi also criticized the overall party policy set by Maehara.

"Although we would be unable to have the regime changed without presenting new political visions and policies countering those of the LDP, what (Maehara) is saying are identical to that of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi," Yokomichi said.

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