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Polarization of opposition cooperation in Lower House election

With the Party of Hope led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike poised to accept a large number of incumbent House of Representatives members and other candidates from the Democratic Party (DP) and the Liberal Party, there has been a radical change in the paradigm of election cooperation among the opposition parties. The previous framework for fielding common candidates by the DP, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the Liberal Party, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has collapsed and the opposition forces are now polarized between the camp centering on the Party of Hope and the JCP and the SDP.


Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party] is planning to engage the Party of Hope in the coordination of candidates. Although Ishin had previously planned to field candidates in seven districts in Tokyo, it will now refrain from doing so. This is in consideration of the Party of Hope’s plan to field candidates in 24 single-seat districts in Tokyo, except for the 12th district. The Party of Hope, on its part, is reportedly considering reviewing its plan to field candidates in Osaka-fu, which is Ishin’s political base.


Meanwhile, JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii criticized the DP’s merger with the Party of Hope as a “serious act of betrayal” on Sept. 28. He stressed that “if DP candidates are recognized as official candidates of the Party of Hope, the JCP will also field its own official candidates.”


Shii met with SDP Secretary General Seiji Mataichi earlier in the day and agreed to discuss fielding common candidates in the Lower House election. They are expected to announce the constituencies where the two parties will cooperate as soon as Sept. 29.


In the last House of Councillors election in July 2016, the DP, the JCP, the People’s Life Party [now the Liberal Party], and the SDP won in 11 of the 32 single-seat districts. Since the failure of the opposition parties to unite would result in the fragmentation of votes critical of the administration, certain Liberal Democratic Party members are hoping that “this might work in favor of the ruling parties,” according to a mid-ranking member. (Slightly abridged)

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