Dozens of lawmakers from Japan’s ruling Democratic Party, including the party’s key figure Ichiro Ozawa, have resigned over the prime minister’s controversial tax-hike bill.
At least 40 legislators from the lower house and 12 others from the upper house of the parliament submitted their resignations on Monday and are expected to form a new party.
The mass exodus of the lawmakers is regarded as a major blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda whose plan of doubling the sales taxes from 5 percent to 10 percent was passed in the lower house last week.
The legislation, however, needs to get the final approval from the upper house of the Japanese parliament.
A total of 363 out of the 469 votes in the lower house supported Noda’s plan to double sales taxes by 2015.
Some 57 members of the Democratic Party voted against the bill.
Noda argues that his plan to double tax sales in three years will help Japan cut its high public debt, but the party’s heavyweight Ozawa says the plan violates the party’s campaign pledges made three years ago.
Ozawa is now expected to begin arrangements to form a new political party.
The legislation will be a terrible strain for the Japanese people who are still grappling with the fallout of last year’s earthquake and tsunami.