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Democratic Party beginning to suffer from “defections”

  • February 17, 2017
  • , Yomiuri , p. 4
  • JMH Translation
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Local assembly members and labor unions are increasingly distancing themselves from the Democratic Party (DP) leadership under Renho. There is no longer a floor group with the DP’s name in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and some labor unions are leaning toward supporting the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). This is because of the growing alarm at the party’s low support rating ahead of the Tokyo assembly election in July and the next House of Representatives election.


Renho met with Rengo (Japan Trade Union Confederation) Chairman Rikio Kozu at a hotel in Tokyo on Feb. 16. It is believed that Kozu voiced his concern about Renho’s plan to review the party’s policy on nuclear power plants. Kozu said at a news conference: “If the DP is coming up only with figures without regard for the substance (of its nuclear plant policy), will it be able to win the people’s support as a political party that they can entrust the administration with?” A meeting between senior DP and Rengo officials originally scheduled for Feb. 17 was postponed.


Renho was envisioning a strategy of building an opposition united front based on the party’s relationship of trust with Rengo. However, with discord in the DP’s relations with Rengo, various issues have emerged in her management of the party.


Senior officials of the Japanese Federation of Chemical Workers’ Unions, which left Rengo last May, visited the LDP headquarters for the first time on Feb. 13 to meet with Policy Research Council chair Toshimitsu Motegi to exchange views on energy policy, work-style reforms, and other issues, as well as discuss possible cooperation in the next Lower House election.


At the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, two groups of lawmakers affiliated with the DP and the former Japan Innovation Party merged on Feb. 14 to form a new floor group named “assembly members’ team for Tokyo’s reforms,” getting rid of the word “DP” in their previous names and declaring support for Governor Yuriko Koike.


Renho reprimanded party officials when she heard about the new floor group’s name. When asked about this move to “hide connections with the DP,” Renho stated at a news conference on Feb. 16: “This also has to do with the autonomy of local assemblies, so I don’t see a problem.” However, a DP source said, “Things are becoming precarious even in the president’s home constituency. Prospects for the DP’s revival in the future are uncertain.”


The DP is suffering from low support ratings. A nationwide opinion poll conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun in late January showed that the party’s support rate was 7%. (Slightly abridged)

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