Rising through the ruling party ranks, Tamisuke Watanuki had an over three-decade career at the core of Japan's conservative politics. Elected the Speaker of the Lower House in 2000, he might have been expected to retire after that job.
But things changed in 2005 when then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi threw him and other lawmakers that voted against a postal privatization bill and ran candidates -- so called "assassins" -- against them in a snap Lower House vote.
While some might have called it quits after that, Watanuki and another postal rebel, Shizuka Kamei, formed the People's New Party. The tiny party, now allied with opposition parties in parliament, hopes that the July Upper House election will be close enough that their members will be able to tip the balance either way. With the support of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration sinking and mired in missteps and candals, that vote could be close.
Come here what the leader the People's New Party has to say about the prospects for the upcoming vote, whether they might rejoin with their old allies in the Liberal Democratic Party and his assessment of the current defacto one-party system in Japan.
Watanuki was first elected to the Lower House in 1969 and has since been elected 13 times. He has served as construction minister and national land agency chief and is a graduate of the elite Keio University.