(Asahi: February 9, 2016 – p. 4)
Consultations between the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Japan Innovation Party (JIP) on merging their parties are gradually heading toward a dead-end. The DPJ has proposed finding a way for all JIP lawmakers to join a new party while giving consideration to the JIP’s House of Councillors members who are against joining a new party unless both parties are dissolved. However, there is a possibility that the two opposition parties will put off their discussions until after the Upper House election because they have not yet found any feasible way to join forces. Some JIP members are considering giving up on the idea of merging with the DPJ at an early date and forming a new party with other opposition parties.
According to DPJ sources, DPJ President Katsuya Okada held a meeting with JIP policy chief Jiro Ono on Feb. 4, in which he proposed an early settlement of the matter, conveying that the DPJ was hoping to merge with the JIP with the participation of all JIP Upper House members.
The five JIP Upper House members, including Ono, were elected in the proportional representation segment of the 2014 election as candidates of the now defunct Your Party. Under the Diet regulations, they cannot directly transfer to the DPJ. Since the JIP, which calls for forming a new party after dissolving the two parties, and the DPJ, which advocates a merger of the two parties without dissolving, have been unable to bridge the gap between them, Okada proposed finding a new way to join forces.
At a press conference on Feb. 5, Ono welcomed Okada’s proposal, saying, “I think the DPJ is trying to find a comparatively viable plan,” expressing expectations.
However, the DPJ side has failed to find a feasible plan. In the consultations between the two parties, the idea was proposed that the JIP Upper House members resign from the Diet and the DPJ field them as its candidates for the proportional representation segment of the upcoming election, but the JIP side rejected the idea. There is also the idea of the JIP Upper House members forming a new party at first and then merging with the DPJ before the Upper House election.
A senior JIP member expressed impatience, saying, “We may move to form a new party without the DPJ.”
From the DPJ side as well, a senior member said, “We have no choice other than to put off making a decision until after the Upper House election.” (Slightly abridged)