TOKYO — Two major opposition parties agreed Monday on their basic policies to form an alliance in the Diet in a move that would make the largest opposition group in both the lower and upper houses.
Motohisa Furukawa, secretary general of the Party of Hope, and Teruhiko Mashiko, Furukawa’s counterpart in the Democratic Party, exchanged a consensus document, pledging to establish a force to challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government led by the Liberal Democratic Party.
The Party of Hope was initially launched by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike in the run-up to the Oct. 22 lower house election and many Democratic Party members defected to run in the race from the new party. Koike stepped down as party leader after its sluggish performance in the poll.
The latest move, if realized, will bring the total number of lower house members of the two parties to 65, surpassing the 54 of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, another splinter party from the Democratic Party.
The two sides will seek to officially confirm the alliance later this week with their leaders expected to hold talks, ahead of the ordinary Diet session beginning Jan. 22, paving the way for the new force to negotiate the Diet schedule with the ruling coalition.
The two parties had remained apart over controversial security legislation, which took effect in March 2016 despite strong public protests, with the Democratic Party saying a key part of the legislation is unconstitutional.
The legislation has loosened the constraints imposed by Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and allowed the Self-Defense Forces to exercise collective self-defense, or defending the United States and other allies under certain conditions, about which the Democratic Party had raised doubts
The document exchanged between Furukawa and Mashiko said the two parties “will conduct necessary reviews, including parts which are pointed out as unconstitutional.”
Asked about the possibility of a merger, Mashiko did not rule it out, saying it could happen if momentum increased within the united force and expressing readiness to make efforts to achieve it.