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Post-election moves by DP members running as independents may change political landscape

There is great interest in what Democratic Party (DP) members running as independents in the House of Representatives race on Oct. 22 will do after the election. If former President Katsuya Okada, former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, and a number of other veteran politicians win in this election, they may affect the outcome of the realignment of opposition parties from now on.

 

Twenty-one incumbent DP Lower House members are running in this election as independents. They have formed a network around Okada and have decided to hold a meeting on Oct. 23 to discuss what to do next. Okada stated in a speech in Mie Prefecture on Oct. 19: “After the election, I would like to hold discussions with the colleagues who went to the Kibo no To [Party of Hope] or the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and work for a united opposition force.”

 

While DP President Seiji Maehara appears to be poised to merge the DP with the Party of Hope, Okada will not leave the DP. Noda is also averse to the Party of Hope, which advocates freezing the consumption tax increase. Some DP members running as independents have said that if Maehara insists on merging with the Party of Hope, they will demand his resignation.

 

On the other hand, certain independents have openly called for cooperating with the CDPJ, which is expected to do well in this election. Kenji Eda, former deputy DP leader, asserted in a speech on Oct. 19: “The CDPJ is the political party facing off against the Liberal Democratic Party,” favoring cooperation with this party. There are also rumors about independents joining the CPDJ or forming a joint floor group in the Diet with this party after the election.

 

However, CDPJ deputy leader Akira Nagatsuma denied such proposals on Oct. 19, telling reporters: “We will not cooperate just for the sake of numerical strength.” There is concern that if this party is seen to give priority to political maneuvering, “it will not be able to win voters’ support and this will be very damaging,” according to a mid-ranking member.

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