Although the former Democratic Party (DP) members who were excluded from the merger between the DP and the Party of Hope decided to form new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) out of necessity, the new party has begun to make headway.
“Let’s bring back real democracy,” Yukio Edano who leads the CDPJ said on the evening of Oct. 4 as he stood next to former Health Minister Akira Nagatsuma, who was appointed as the party’s deputy leader, at Nakano Station in Tokyo. When Edano said this, the audience started chanting “Edano.” The new party’s official Twitter account attracted about 113,000 followers in the two days after it was formed on Oct. 2, far more than the DP’s 23,000 and even exceeding the Liberal Democratic Party’s 112,000. This contrasts sharply with the Party of Hope, whose followers remain at 3,000.
The Party of Hope is a conservative-oriented party that only accepted former DP members as candidates on the party’s ticket if they endorsed the security legislation and opposed giving foreign permanent residents the right to vote in local elections. The CDPJ took in the liberal-minded DP members who had nowhere to go. Many citizens who had led protests against the security legislation bill in front of the Diet have gathered to support campaign speeches by the CDPJ. According to a CDPJ source, the party has assembled about 50 candidates to run in the election on the party’s ticket and the number may further increase.
When he was the DP secretary-general, Edano organized a united opposition front. In response to the formation of the CDPJ led by Edano, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), which aims to rebuild the united opposition front, quickly took action. On Oct. 3, the JCP, voluntarily withdrew its candidate from Edano’s electoral district as a “message of solidarity,” according to JCP Chairperson Kazuo Shii. On Oct. 4, the JCP announced a plan to drop its candidates from five electoral districts in Tokyo, including Nagatsuma’s. In this way, the JCP is actively attempting to unify the candidates in electoral districts that have candidates from both parties.
However, there are still many districts in Tokyo, Osaka, and Hokkaido where JCP and CDPJ candidates are competing against each other. “Competition is unavoidable to some extent to secure votes for proportional representation,” said a JCP senior official. However, dividing up candidates between the JCP and the CDPJ in electoral districts will be a major boon to the CDPJ in the fight against the LDP and the Party of Hope. But the CDPJ depends on the financial support of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, which is against cooperation with the JCP, so it remains to be seen whether the CDPJ and the JCP will be able to completely join forces.