The following is the gist of new Democratic Party leader Kohei Otsuka’s remarks during an interview with Sankei.
Since assuming the party’s top post, I’ve reaffirmed that the entire party is in a more serious situation than I had anticipated.
Former party leader Seiji Maehara decided that all DP members join the Party of Hope ahead of the Lower House election. I could understand that because the opposition bloc is supposed to provide the public with a political structure in which they can choose a government. His decision was also rational in light of his pursuit of continuity and feasibility in diplomatic and security policies.
But the behavior of former Party of Hope leader and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was beyond all expectations. She should be blamed for not exercising sufficient care.
My goal is to change the government in the next general election with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), Party of Hope, and the DP at the core. So I will rebuild the party to achieve that goal. But both the CDPJ and the Party of Hope were only just launched as independent parties. So a vision based on the assumption of their merger is unrealistic at the moment.
“Three parties taking the initiative in achieving a change of government” could be interpreted as a “coalition government.” Multiple parties forming a coalition is a rational option as far as they agree on what they want to achieve while they are in power. The CDPJ and the Party of Hope have different fundamental philosophies with respect to security policies. But both parties share the fundamental assumption that they have to protect the lives and assets of the Japanese people.
The Upper House election slated for 2019 will also be an important battle. Last year, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and three other opposition parties fielded joint candidates in 32 single-seat constituencies and won 11 of those seats. But I don’t believe that the same tactic will cut the mustard in the 2019 election. The now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won more seats than the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) for the first time in the Upper House election in 2004. It also won a landslide victory in the Upper House election in 2007. But all the candidates were the DPJ’s own candidates.
Coalition with JCP is difficult
Forming a coalition with the JCP is difficult because our policies are significantly different. We would welcome the JCP if it agrees to the opposition parties’ role of “providing the public with an opportunity to choose a government” and voluntarily cooperates with us.
I also believe a constitutional amendment requires thorough discussions. But the Constitution is precisely the “skeleton of the country” and changing the skeleton is a major operation, isn’t it? Are constitutional debate and amendment, which can be considered operations, necessary when the whole nation, who can be regarded as patients, feel like rejecting major surgery? I’d like to ask Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directly during the Diet interpellations at the Upper House on Nov. 21, “What will change if the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces is enshrined in the Constitution?” We are in a position where the SDF is legal in the first place, though there may be room for discussion if we can agree with the prime minister’s explanation.
The security legislation is partly unconstitutional, so we’ve been adhering to the stance that it should be “brought back to the drawing board.” However, the security environment is constaintly changing. So we’ll discuss thoroughly what stance to take within the party.