Japan MP Leaves Party After Supporting Russia In War Against Ukraine
During his visit, Muneo Suzuki told Russian media that he believed Moscow would be victorious (File)
A pro-Russia Japanese lawmaker left his opposition party Tuesday after facing criticism for making a surprise visit to Moscow and declaring his support for Russia to win the war in Ukraine. Muneo Suzuki, a former parliamentary vice-minister of foreign affairs, submitted a letter of resignation to the centre-right opposition Japan Innovation Party, said the party's secretary-general Fumitake Fujita.
The party had been taking steps to expel him over the trip, but Mr Suzuki told leaders that he wished to leave of his own accord, Mr Fujita said.
"The party decided to accept his wish," Mr Fujita told a press conference, without elaborating further.
Veteran lawmaker Suzuki will continue to serve as a member of parliament, with his current term due to end in 2025.
The lawmaker visited Russia for a five-day trip from October 1 to meet with various Russian officials including Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko.
It was the first known visit by a Japanese lawmaker to Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine last year.
During the visit, he told Russian media that he believed Moscow would be victorious, a comment that he reiterated after returning to Japan.
Japan has sided with allies the United States, European Union and others in sanctioning Moscow over the conflict, and urges its citizens not to visit Russia.
Mr Suzuki, once a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has been deeply involved in Japan's efforts to solve its territorial disputes with Russia over small islands off Japan's northern coasts.
He was forced to leave the LDP in the early 2000s over bribery and political fund scandals.
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