Democratic Party (DP) President Seiji Maehara held a news conference in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Sept. 9. In light of reports that five of the party’s House of Representatives members are considering leaving the party, he indicated that the party will make every effort to stop the defection, including the option of fielding “assassin” candidates in the next Lower House election. He stressed, “We will also field candidates in all the electoral districts of those who leave the party.”
Maehara had expressed a negative view on fielding candidates to compete with party defectors in the recent presidential election. It is believed that he has changed tack because failing to stop the chain reaction of defections that started after the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election in July would seriously damage the party.
Maehara pointed out at the news conference: “Rengo (Japan Trade Union Confederation) Chairman Rikio Kozu has also said that Rengo will not endorse those who leave the party and endorsement will be withdrawn for those Rengo has already decided to support.”
In a speech he delivered before the news conference, Maehara said: “It is important to think of the party members and local assembly members who support us even in times of difficulty in order to eliminate the sense that the DP is falling apart,” thus trying to dissuade potential party deserters.
Maehara and members of his new leadership have started a nationwide campaign to build the party’s support base with its local chapters and to strengthen relations with Rengo, in preparation for the next Lower House election. (Abridged)