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POLITICS > Elections

DP bound to lose in Upper House election; outcome to impact opposition political forces

  • July 2, 2016
  • , pp. 122-123
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By Hosei University Prof. Jiro Yamaguchi


The outcome of the upcoming House of Councillors election will decide the fate of the opposition party leaders and the opposition’s political line.


Although Democratic Party (DP) leader Katsuya Okada was somehow able to form an alliance of liberal forces and opposition parties, if he fails to produce results in the Upper House election, there will certainly be a fierce backlash in his party. The conservatives in the party also differ seriously with him on his policies on the Constitution and cooperation with other opposition parties.


The seats up for election that the DP currently holds [45] were won during the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration. It is impossible for the present DP to perform that well. This party is certain to lose, and if it loses heavily, the party leader will be replaced. As a result, a conclusion will be made that the liberal line and opposition cooperation failed, prompting the party to lean further toward conservatism. It is even possible that it may become a de facto second Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on the pretext of the dealing with policies on a case-by-case basis.


Furthermore, the labor unions supporting the DP may simply opt to become pressure groups on the LDP in the aftermath of a crushing defeat.


If the opposition united front fails to produce results, the Japanese Communist Party will revert to its independent policy line. This would be unfortunate for Japan’s party politics and democracy because it would mean the collapse of balanced party politics that has been maintained for 70 years after World War II.


The outcome of the Upper House election will determine the fate of the opposition forces. Former cabinet ministers in the DPJ administration whom I met about six months ago told me if the DP wins as few seats as in the 2013 Upper House election [17], the party may simply cease to exist. This has become a real possibility.


The disintegration of the No. 1 opposition party, a major political party that is able to contend with the LDP to a certain extent, would be a major crisis for Japanese party politics. The opposition parties should be seriously aware of this as they campaign in the Upper House election. (Abridged)

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