It was another tough Sunday press event for the increasingly haggard-looking Tanigaki Sadakazu. The Liberal Democratic Party's president, on a probably poorly thought-through visit to Nago City in Okinawa, had hardly finished his canned demand for Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio's resignation when he was asked to comment on the other Hatoyama, younger brother Kunio, who in a televised interview announced he would be leaving the LDP and forming a new party, with his estimated date of departure sometime during the Golden Week holidays. Kunio became the third well-known LDP member in last two weeks to issue a threat to leave and form a new party if Tanigaki did not not himself resign.
Tanigaki, so far from home and so close to becoming a footnote in Japanese political history, could only sputter that he was not informed as to the content of H. Kunio's announcement.
(Not an issue to hang one's hopes on, I am afraid. The discovery of content inside a Hatoyamo Kunio announcement would be a thing of wonder.)
Coming on the heels of Masuzoe Yoichi's appearance at the Foreign Correspondent's Club and Yosano Kaoru's essay for Bungei Shunju, both of which resulted in no appreciable punishment for the perpetrator (Masuzoe was replaced at the last minute as lead questioner in the House of Councillor's budget committee interpellations, which meant that the LDP had a lesser mortal asking the Cabinet the LDP's questions) H. Kunio's announcement pushes the core LDP leadership group to the brink. The party's most popular, most respected (at least in bureaucratic and business circles) and richest members have all now threatened to jump ship and form new parties if Tanigaki does not step down. It is inconceivable that the party leaders can just hunker down and hope for the storm to pass. They have to either expel the rebels, strip them of all party privileges or accede to their demands.
All in all, it looks like it is going to be a very interesting Monday at LDP headquarters.