All papers reported extensively on yesterday’s press conference by Democratic Party President Renho, during which she unexpectedly announced her plan to resign in the face of mounting criticism of her leadership among party lawmakers, who demanded that she take responsibility for the party’s historic defeat in the recent Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election along with Secretary General Noda. She told the press: “I realized following the Tokyo race that my leadership was inadequate. I want my successor to rebuild the party so that it can take power.” The dailies conjectured that Renho chose to step down after she discovered that nobody was willing to take over the post of secretary general. A party source told Yomiuri: “She came to realize that her grip on power was completely lost. Renho became discouraged because she was caught in a catch-22 situation.”
According to the papers, former Defense Minister Maehara and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano have already disclosed to politicians close to them that they intend to seek the DP presidency. The two officials’ views toward defense and foreign policies and constitutional revision appear to be very different, as Maehara represents the conservative wing of the party while Edano is viewed as a staunch liberalist. Some DP officials are concerned that their party may become split depending on the results of the presidential race, in which the proposed enhancement of cooperation with the Japanese Communist Party in the next general election will probably be a major issue of contention between the two candidates. Sankei said Acting Secretary General Tamaki may also run in the presidential election. Yomiuri projected that momentum for opposition realignment may grow, as some DP legislators may choose to bolt the party and form a new national party with members of the Tomin First party effectively led by Tokyo Governor Koike.
Nikkei said the DP is on the verge of collapse, explaining that the largest opposition party has been lacking three important elements – senior officials who are willing to take responsibility, veteran politicians who can rein in internal dissenters, and viable policy proposals that make the party an appealing alternative to the Abe administration.