Japanese politicians to launch ‘third force’ to challenge two main parties

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A NEW nationalist party has been formed in Japan aiming to become a “third force” to challenge the two main parties.

Veteran politician ­Shintaro Ishihara, 80, who resigned as governor of ­Tokyo to form a new Sunrise Party last week, said yesterday he would now link up with a Japan Restoration Party formed by the outspoken 42-year-old ­mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, in September.

The move came the day after prime minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the lower house of parliament, paving the way for a general election on 16 December. It is expected that the ruling party will yield to a weak coalition administration divided over how to tackle Japan’s problems.

The biggest issues are how to get a stagnant economy going again and reconstruction in the wake of the crippling March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

If Noda’s centrist party loses, Japan will get its ­seventh prime minister in six and a half years.

The East Asian island country of 128 million ­people is going through a political transition with a merry-go-round of prime ministers and the mushrooming fringe parties to challenge the long-dominant Liberal Democrats’ ­return.

“This country is going to fall apart if we don’t act now,” Ishihara told yesterday’s party convention held in Osaka as he announced the merger of his party and Hashimoto’s. “I’ve decided to ignore small differences to join hands on common ground. This will be my last service for the country.”