Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) takes the stance of supporting a vision that Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara has proposed to seek a realignment within the opposition force. There is room for Rengo to ally with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s new party, “Kibo no To (Party of Hope),” as its local chapter, Rengo Tokyo, supported Tomin First (Tokyoites First), which she led during the July election for Tokyo assembly members. But Koike, for her part, denies a complete merger with the DP, as she advocates creating a “reform-minded, conservative” party. Former Sohyo (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan – JCTU) members within Rengo, who have long supported left-wing lawmakers in the DP, are growing increasingly wary of Koike’s moves.
At a press conference on Sept. 27, Rengo President Rikio Kozu expressed appreciation for Koike’s “giving serious thought to Rengo Tokyo’s policies and vision.” He also said, “I hope [her Party of Hope] will facilitate the creation of an equal political relationship between the ruling and opposition parties and put an end to politics ruled by a single party.”
Kozu reiterates that to better compete with the ruling parties, “the opposition parties that share common basic philosophies should stand united in the election.” With regards to [DP’s] alliance with the Party of Hope, he only noted that “we need to carefully study whether they can share their basic policy visions.”
People close to the Party of Hope are pointing out that “we are selecting lawmakers whom we can accept and rejecting those whom we cannot.” It remains to be seen whether Koike’s new party, which seeks conservative reform, will endorse DP’s leftist members as candidates.
Rengo is mainly divided into two groups. One consists of rightist members from the former Japan Confederation of Labor (Domei). They support the former Democratic Socialist Party. The other group is from the leftist Sohyo. If the Party of Hope rejects the membership of DP leftists, Rengo may split. A senior Rengo member says that “accepting all DP members is a prerequisite.” (Abridged)