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Originally published Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 9:31 PM

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Dozens quit Japan's ruling party in blow to PM

A powerful member of Japan's ruling party and dozens of his followers have decided to quit the group and will likely form their own rival bloc, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

The Associated Press

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TOKYO —

A powerful member of Japan's ruling party and dozens of his followers have decided to quit the group and will likely form their own rival bloc, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

A party official says Ichiro Ozawa and about 50 of his allies submitted their resignations from the Democratic Party of Japan on Monday. That is not enough to immediately end the ruling party's majority in the lower house of Parliament or force Noda out of office, though more could join later.

Ozawa helped bring the party to power in 2009. He has been a vocal critic of Noda's plan to double Japan's sales tax to 10 percent.

The tax hike passed the lower house, but needs to be approved by the less-powerful upper house.

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