Tokyo: Beijing-baiting Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose plan to buy disputed islands ignited a smouldering row with China, on Thursday branded Japan's pacifist constitution "ugly" as he launched a bid for national power.

The outspoken 80-year-old Ishihara said he was giving up his role at the helm of one of the world's largest cities to form his own political party ahead of expected general elections.

"As of today, I will resign as Tokyo governor," Ishihara told a news conference, brandishing a white envelope. "I'm planning to return to national politics. I want to do so by forming a new party with my associates."

Observers say elections -- which must be held within the next year, but are seen likely to come sooner -- will probably not produce a clear result, giving smaller parties a powerful voice in the expected coalition-building.

Ishihara, whose pronouncements on history have irked China -- he once denied the 1937 Rape of Nanking ever happened -- said he saw much wrong with national politics.


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