The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) is adopting a tougher stance with regard to forming an opposition united front in the House of Councillors election in summer 2019. In the House of Representatives election last October, this party withdrew its candidates from 67 constituencies for the sake of fielding one single candidate for the opposition parties. However, this resulted in the party’s seats being reduced from 21 to 12. In light of this, the JCP is now taking a clear stand of not unilaterally withdrawing its candidates in the single-seat districts in the Upper House election, but will only do so on condition of “reciprocal endorsement and support.”
In a speech on the party’s first work day on Jan. 4, Chairman Kazuo Shii called for “policy dialogue and discussions on the coordination of candidates” with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), the Democratic Party (DP), the Liberal Party, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) “at an early date” in order to field one unified candidate in the single-seat districts. The party will field its own candidates in all the electoral districts, after which it will coordinate with the other four parties on condition of mutual endorsement and support.
According to the party’s assessment of the last Lower House election, the JCP was “right” in withdrawing its candidates “for the sake of the bigger goal of stopping the Abe administration’s reckless actions and restoring democracy,” said Shii. However, the party’s analysis is that “the withdrawal of candidates undermined activities to win proportional representation votes in the districts with no candidates,” according to a senior party official.
Meanwhile, Yukio Edano, head of the CPDJ, the leading opposition party, is keeping a subtle distance from the JCP’s proposal even though he recognizes the need for the opposition to field joint candidates. One factor behind this is that Rengo (Japan Trade Union Confederation), which has supported the DP and other parties so far, is negative about a full-fledged united front with the JCP.