The crisis within Japan’s main opposition party took an unexpected turn on Tuesday after Ichiro Ozawa retracted his decision to quit as party leader.
Mr Ozawa, who shocked the nation on Sunday by announcing his intention to step down after failing to convince his Democratic Party of Japan to consider a grand coalition with the ruling Liberal Democratic party, made the equally surprising decision on Tuesday night to accept his party’s request to stay on.
“Although it may be embarrassing for me, I want to once again do my best,” DPJ secretary-general Yukio Hatoyama quoted Mr Ozawa as saying. His decision ends two days of uncertainty for the party, but leaves its reputation in tatters.
“Mr Ozawa staying on is the worst thing that could happen. The public will not trust the DPJ any more and [DPJ members] will always be suspicious that he may be up to something again,” says Jiro Yamaguchi, professor of political science at Hokkaido University.
Despite the consensus among DPJ officials that the party needs Mr Ozawa’s leadership to fight lower house elections expected in six months to a year, there is anger among younger party members at Mr Ozawa’s conduct.