Yamauchi Koichi, a first termer representing Kanagawa’s ninth district, had, as discussed in this post, come to recognize the unpleasant situation for reformists in the post-Koizumi LDP. As he said in this post announcing his departure from the LDP, “The current LDP is like a different party from the ‘Koizumi LDP’ of the general election in 2005.” He rejects the backsliding since 2005, and would rather campaign on his own than violate his principles. (Yamamoto Ichita describes Yamauchi, a member of his reform study group, as having a “pure heart.”)
In short, Yamauchi may simply have uncommon courage for an LDP politician. He will face a particularly tough reelection fight: the DPJ candidate is Ryu Hirofumi, the incumbent who lost to Yamauchi in 2005 86,673 votes to 82,878 and was resurrected through proportional representation. And that’s without considering the possibility that the LDP might send an “assassin” against Yamauchi.
As expected, there appears to be no plan in the works for a large-scale exodus of reformists from the LDP. Instead, it seems that following Tuesday’s self-criticism session, the reformists have made a temporary peace with Aso Taro, perhaps following Nakagawa Hidenao’s message that the DPJ must be stopped.
In other words, Yamauchi may not be the last reformist to leave the LDP before the general election, but he will most likely not have much company in exile. For many reformists, it seems that likely defeat with the help of LDP resources is preferable to near-certain defeat alone.