TOKYO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Executives of Japan’s ruling Democratic Party proposed suspending the party membership of powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa, who has been indicted for a funding scandal, an official said on Monday, risking a split in the party.
Ozawa’s scandal-tainted image, along with the Democratic Party’s flip-flops over costly campaign promises and diplomatic missteps, has helped slice support for Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government to below 20 percent, the lowest since he took office in June. [ID:nTOE71B00E]
Officials proposed suspending Ozawa’s membership until his trial in a funding scandal ends. Jiji news agency said three executives had opposed the punishment. Other party members have also protested.
The decision is not final until another group of executives sign off on the punishment.
Ozawa, a former party leader and seasoned strategist, last week refused Kan’s request to voluntarily leave the party until his trial ended, leaving the prime minister in a dilemma over how to handle the matter, since he needs the votes of Ozawa’s backers to pass bills in parliament. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Michael Watson)