(Yomiuri: January 8, 2015 – p. 2)
The largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan launched yesterday the official campaign for its upcoming presidential election. Former DPJ President Katsuya Okada, former Secretary General Goshi Hosono, and former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma are running in the party leadership race. The DPJ aims to make the election of a new party head the first step toward regaining power. The new leader will be elected at an extraordinary party convention on Jan. 18.
The three presidential candidates held a press conference on Jan. 7. When asked about the possibility of a merger with the Japan Innovation Party, all three were negative about the idea. Okada categorically said: “(The JIP side) is saying that ‘they will join hands with some DPJ members,’ as if to split up our party. At present, I have absolutely no intention of merging with them.”
Hosono, who is thought to be positive about merging with other opposition parties, replied by saying, “We must be aware that there are considerable differences (in views) between the two parties. Merging with them is not a realistic idea.” With the aim of seeking a broad range of support, he has set aside his call for the realignment of opposition parties.
Nagatsuma said: “Before merging with a party whose policies are very different from ours, there are many policies in our party that need to be formulated.”
During the press conference, the three candidates talked about the direction of such policies, including the right to collective self-defense and economy. They will advocate their policies that contrast sharply with those of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Hosono played up his “youthfulness” to 20 local assembly members who gathered at a hotel in Tokyo on the afternoon of Jan. 7, saying, “Since I am the youngest candidate, I will stand at the forefront.”
Hosono’s supporters are trying to promote generational change as a major campaign issue. There is a view in the DPJ that Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan, who formed the party, are the “first generation” of the party and “the six senior members,” including Okada, who were key players in the DPJ-led government, are the “second generation.” Hosono places himself in the “third generation” Out of the 25 lawmakers who endorse him, 15 were elected to the Diet in and after the 2000 Lower House election. Hosono is clearly taking a strategy of using his youthfulness as an advantage.
Meanwhile, Okada’s backers place priority on the lineup of Diet members who endorsed him. The group demonstrates Okada’s stance of aiming at a unified party arrangement by displaying support from a broad range of members, including former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and former Finance Minister Jun Azumi and former METI Minister Masayuki Naoshima, who used to work for a labor union.
Nagatsuma, who is backed by a group of lawmakers hailing from the defunct Japan Socialist Party, plays up his liberal bent. He stated at the press conference that “he does not think the Abe cabinet deeply reflects on the war 70 years ago. It has been rushing ahead with very dangerous moves.”
If no candidate secures a majority of votes in the election, the top two candidates will hold a runoff to be decided by the party’s Diet members. (Slightly abridged)
Three DPJ presidential candidates
Katsuya Okada: Elected nine times to the Lower House in the Mie No. 3 constituency; served as deputy prime minister, foreign minister, and DPJ president; graduated from the University of Tokyo; 61 years old.
Goshi Hosono: Elected six times to the Lower House in the Shizuoka No. 5 constituency; served as DPJ secretary general and environment minister; graduated from Kyoto University; 43 years old.
Akira Nagatsuma: Elected six times to the Lower House in the Tokyo No. 7 constituency; served as DPJ policy chief and minister for health, labor and welfare; graduated from Keio University; 54 years old.