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DPJ targets April dissolution of Lower House

  • 2016-02-09 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: February 9, 2016 – p. 5)

 

 The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is steadily moving forward with endorsing candidates for the next Lower House election. DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano is promoting the possibility of the “Lower House being dissolved in April,” over the possibility of the elections taking place on the same day as the Upper House race this summer. It is within the DPJ’s grasp to reach its target of “making informal agreements with 200 candidates by the end of March” together with the Japan Innovation Party (JIP), with which it has formed a joint parliamentary group. Troubles are predicted between the two parties, though, as they have reached informal agreements with different candidates for the same constituencies and the two parties are at an impasse over whether to team up.

 

 “I think the Lower House election could be held as soon as April 24.”

 

 These were Edano’s words at a press conference held at the Diet on Feb. 8. He referred repeatedly to the possibility of the Lower House being dissolved immediately after the FY2016 budget is passed and of general elections being held in April.

 

 Edano’s aim was to spur the party into action by promoting the idea of the early dissolution of the Lower House. DPJ leader Katsuya Okada also mentioned [the possibility of] Lower House elections in April. As if acting in concert, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan started electioneering in his constituency on Feb. 7. In addition, former Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister and DPJ Vice-President Akihiro Ohata (Ibaraki No. 5) announced on Feb. 6 that he would resign at the end of the Diet session. All these are moves to support the endorsement of candidates as soon as possible in anticipation of the early dissolution of the Lower House.

 

 On Feb. 6, Okada visited Aomori Prefecture and participated in a gathering for those planning to run as candidates in the race for Aomori No. 4. In this way, party leaders will travel around the nation, mainly on weekends, aiming to promote the Lower House elections. As of Feb. 8, the DPJ has extended informal offers of endorsement to a total of 148 candidates, including 71 incumbents (excluding Akihiro Ohata) and 77 new or former politicians. The JIP has given informal offers of endorsement to a total of 29 candidates, including 21 incumbents and 8 new or former politicians.

 

 That is a long way from the majority (238) needed to effect a change in administration, but their original goal was to have 200 people by the Golden Week holidays in early May. They accelerated the process of identifying candidates, though, “sensing that the Lower House will be dissolved early.” DPJ Election Campaign Committee Chair Koichiro Gemba said to the press on Feb. 2: “We are moving up our goal for concluding informal agreements with 200 potential candidates to the end of March.” That same day, he confirmed this policy at the election coordination committee meeting attended by DPJ and JIP leaders.

 

 Many issues remain, however. In the three districts of Kanagawa No. 6, Nagano No. 3, and Aichi No. 4 – which are JIP constituencies – the DPJ offered informal agreements last year to new and former politicians. This means the DPJ and JIP are still competing against each other. At the inter-party election coordination committee meeting on Feb. 2, JIP Election Campaign Committee Chair Kenko Matsuki said, “We would like the DPJ to move quickly [with its decision about teaming up].”

 

 As the DPJ leadership shows hesitation and talks between the parties founder, it looks like the merging of the parties will impact the endorsement of candidates for the Lower House elections.


Endorsement of candidates for the next lower House election

 

(persons)

Incumbent

New

Former

Total

DPJ

71

37

40

148

JIP

21

2

6

29

Total

92

39

46

177

*As of Feb. 8

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