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Japan opposition to ban hereditary candidates

world Updated: Apr 27, 2009 17:00 IST

Japan's main opposition party said on Monday it would bar its members from passing on their political bases to close family members, taking a swipe at the country's powerful political dynasties.

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was expected to make the plan part of its election platform ahead of polls that must be held by September after a key party committee adopted it Monday, said a party spokesman.

It would ban "close family members" -- children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews of parliament members -- from running in the same constituencies.

The move comes amid growing criticism of second and third-generation political aristocrats that has intensified since two recent prime ministers Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda quit after just one year each.

The two ex-premiers from the ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are both sons of former prime ministers. Former LDP prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, a charismatic leader who championed political reforms, has also publicly annointed his son, Shinjiro Koizumi, to follow in his footsteps in his constituency.

The LDP's incumbent Prime Minister Taro Aso is also a political 'blue-blood', from the family of former prime minister Shigeru Yoshida.

Aso's cabinet is comprised predominantly from political dynasties, including until recently Shoichi Nakagawa, who quit as finance minister after appearing drunk at a Rome press conference.

DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa a former LDP member now under fire over a political donations scandal involving a close aide who was recently indicted is also a hereditary politician.

Aso's Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura dismissed the DPJ's plan. "We should not decide so sweepingly that all the hereditary politicians are bad," Kawamura told reporters. "They may face higher hurdles, carrying the family name. The decision should be up to voters."