SDP's political course up to its leader Doi's resignation

Doi Takako resigned as Social Democratic Party leader on November 13.

Doi was elected chair of the Socialist Party in 1986 and was the speaker of the House of Representatives from 1993 to 1996, a period in which the SPJ made a major change in its basic policy.

After losing half of its Lower House seats in the July 1993 general election, the SPJ took part in Prime Minister Hosokawa's coalition cabinet replacing the Liberal Democratic Party, and cooperated in introducing the single-seat constituency system and liberalizing rice imports.

A year later the SPJ walked out of the cabinet due to a discord within the cabinet and worked with the LDP and Sakigake (Harbinger) to form new coalition, establishing a government led by Murayama Tomiichi, then SPJ chair, as prime minister.

Prime Minister Murayama declared that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty system will be maintained and that the Self-Defense Forces are constitutional. Endorsing this position, the SPJ at its Congress approved a major policy change in order to abandon its long-standing policy of "neutrality and non-alignment" on the grounds that its historical need had ended.

As a governing party in the Murayama Cabinet and the Hashimoto Cabinet, the SPJ in 1996 supported the Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security which laid the foundation for an increase in Japan's cooperation and involvement in U.S. wars.

The SPJ also discarded its call for the consumption tax to be abolished. In November 1994, the SPJ (as part of the Murayama Cabinet) enacted a bill to increase the consumption tax rate to 5 percent from the initial 3 percent.

Concerning the Constitution, the SPJ action plans for 1995 (draft) called for a "creative development" of the "spirit of the Japanese Constitution."

In January 1996, the SPJ changed its name to the Social Democratic Party, and in September, Doi was elected the SDP leader. Thereafter, the DPJ has called louder for defending the Constitution and opposing the sending of the SDF abroad. In an attempt to regain a good name for the party, the SDP accepted popular women Dietmembers as cabinet members. The SDP, however, did not hold discussions on the changes the SPJ had made in its basic course.

During the campaigning for the Nov. 9 general election, Doi stated (Nov. 5) that the SDP will take part in a coalition government centered on the Democratic Party of Japan in the event of the fall of the Koizumi Cabinet. In light of the DPJ election platform pledges for a constitutional revision, Doi's statement represents a fatal setback from the SDP position of defending the Constitution. (end)

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