Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) held an extraordinary Central Executive Committee meeting on Oct. 5 in response to the de facto disbandment of the Democratic Party (DP). The committee officially decided to forgo supporting a specific political party and back individual candidates of the DP that it has already endorsed for the upcoming Lower House election. But there is growing concern within the labor organization, which is the DP’s largest support group, that it could split up depending on the election results and subsequent political climate due to the fact that former DP lawmakers will run separately on the Party of Hope’s ticket, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s (CDPJ) ticket, or as independents.
During a press conference after the meeting, Rengo’s President Rikio Kozu reiterated his understanding for the merger between the DP and the Party of Hope, saying, “It’s true that the public had been seeking a party that could put an end to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sole dominance.”
But Kozu also said that “it’s regrettable” that Party of Hope leader and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike “excluded” some of the DP candidates. He said that Rengo decided not to back any political party because “the Party of Hope and the CDPJ are still in their infancy so we can’t assess (their policies and so on.)”
Rengo’s organization candidates are also divided into three groups. Shinichiro Furumoto (Aichi District No. 11), who is originally from the Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (JAW), will join the Party of Hope. Hirotaka Akamatsu (Aichi District No. 5), backed by the All Japan Federation of Transport Workers’ Unions, will participate in CDPJ. Also, Hirofumi Hirano (Osaka District No. 11), supported by the Japanese Electrical Electronic and Information Union, will run as an independent.
When Rengo held its 15th Biennial Convention in Tokyo on Oct. 4 and 5, its affiliates and regional organizations that have been preparing for the Lower House election were unnerved. A member of a regional organization in the Shikoku region criticized DP leader Seiji Maehara, who made the decision to merge with the Party of Hope, saying, “Did he want to destroy the party?”
An insider of the JAW said in anguish, “Rengo will be contradicting itself as an organization if it backs different parties in different constituencies even though the political parties are underscoring their differences with rival parties.”