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Upper house member Muroi gives up Diet seat


Kunihiko Muroi, who has decided to leave the Democratic Party of Japan, filed a letter of resignation with the upper house on Wednesday in the hope of running in the House of Councillors election in summer for a different political party.

"My plan is to run in the upper house election through the proportional representation block," Muroi, 66, told reporters. He did not mention under which party he plans to run.

Muroi filed his departure from the DPJ, which is now the country's main opposition party after losing power in a general election in December, last month.

The DPJ, which had planned to endorse Muroi as candidate in the proportional representation block, has urged him to give up his seat as a lawmaker if he quits the DPJ.

Muroi was first elected in the more powerful House of Representatives in 2003 but failed to return in the 2005 general election. He regained a Diet seat in the 2007 upper house election.

He was parliamentary secretary of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism from September 2011 in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Kanako Otsuji, who ranks next to Muroi in the proportional representation block in the DPJ's list, will take over the seat vacated by Muroi.

Otsuji, 38, is a former member of the Osaka prefectural assembly. She has disclosed that she is gay and she lectures on discrimination and prejudice.