(Yomiuri: November 13, 2015 – p. 4)
There is a growing view in the main position Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) that the DPJ should be dissolved and a new political party should be formed with the Japan Innovation Party and other parties before the end of this year. Former DPJ head Seiji Maehara conveyed this view on Nov. 12 to incumbent President Katsuya Okada. Policy Research Committee Chairman Goshi Hosono also is expected to call on Okada shortly to disband the party. As Okada intends to dismiss these calls, the confrontation in the largest opposition party over its revival will likely intensify.
Maehara chatted with Okada for about 10 minutes yesterday during an Autumn Imperial Garden Party at Akasaka Gyoen Imperial Garden and urged him to disband the DPJ, saying, “We should go back to basics and unite under a vision.” At a party hosted by a DPJ lawmaker after the Imperial Garden Party, Maehara emphasized, saying, “We should rebuild our party from the ground up.”
Hosono has chimed in with Maehara. On the night of Nov. 11, Hosono and Maehara met former JIP head Kenji Eda in Tokyo. The three agreed that after dissolving the DPJ and JIP, a new political party should be formed. Immediately after the meeting with Hosono and Maehara, Eda met with Okada and urged him to disband the DPJ.
Hosono and Maehara have called on Okada to disband the party because they have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to end the present situation in which the DPJ is unable to regain its former strength by forming a new political party. However, there is also a view in the DPJ that just merging with the JIP “lacks impact,” according to a junior DPJ member. In light of the fact that government subsidies are provided to political parties based on the number of Diet members a political party has as of Jan. 1, Hosono and Maehara will urge Okada to make a decision before the end of the year. At a press conference on Nov. 12, JIP leader Yorihisa Matsuno expressed hope for [forming a new party], saying, “Reform is required by forming a new political party that includes other parties.”
Meanwhile, Hosono and Maehara have intensified their opposition to Okada, who is seeking ways to cooperate with the Japanese Communist Party in the House of Councillors election next summer. The underlying factor behind the two senior DPJ lawmakers’ calls for disbanding the party is the conflict between the two sides over a coalition of opposition parties. On Nov. 12, Maehara met with former DPJ Secretary General Akihiro Ohata to gather support.
At a press conference yesterday, Okada ruled out the possibility of disbanding the DPJ, saying, “Only switching the name of the party will not work.” Asked about his meeting with Maehara, Okada just said, “We were able to hold a constructive meeting.” He severely criticized Hosono, saying, “The executive members include the president, deputy president, secretary general, and chairman of the Upper House caucus. If (Hosono) is aware that he is an executive member, he should not have talked thoughtlessly about disbanding the party.” Liberal JDP lawmakers such as Secretary General Yukio Edano and former Lower House Vice Speaker Hirotaka Akamatsu are negative about disbanding the party.
Even if their proposal is rejected, Hosono and Maehara apparently plan to remain in the DPJ for the time being. During the party on Nov. 12, Maehara stressed, “In any case, splitting the party up would not be good.” Before the House of Representatives election last year, Hosono and Maehara directly urged then DPJ head Banri Kaieda to disband the party and form a new party.