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Alliance negotiations between 2 Japanese opposition parties break down

  • January 17, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 5:04 p.m.
  • English Press
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TOKYO — Negotiations between two major Japanese opposition parties to form a Diet alliance broke down Wednesday amid strong opposition from rank-and-file lawmakers on both sides citing differences in security policy and stance toward revising the Constitution.


The move comes two days after the two parties’ secretaries general exchanged a consensus document to establish a unified political force to challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government led by the Liberal Democratic Party, with the ordinary Diet session set to convene on Monday.


The leadership of the Democratic Party gave up on securing a consensus on the matter within the party on Wednesday, having sought to gain approval of the alliance plan from its members in a meeting that started in the morning.


Meanwhile, Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Party of Hope, said in a party meeting, “We will put an end to the negotiation today.”


A senior party official told reporters, “A relationship of trust has collapsed. We have told the Democratic Party we will no longer continue the negotiation.”


The Party of Hope was formed by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike ahead of the lower house election last October and many Democratic Party members left their party to run as candidates for the new party.


In the process, Democratic Party members who did not follow the move established the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which eventually succeeded in becoming the leading force in the lower house.


Koike resigned as party leader to take responsibility for its sluggish performance in the election.


The Democratic Party, whose predecessor the Democratic Party of Japan was in power between 2009 and 2012, could split again as a group of senior lower house members, including former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and former Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada, have decided to try to form an alliance with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.


The Party of Hope and the Democratic Party were at odds over controversial security legislation, which took effect in March 2016, with the latter claiming 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 — meaning they could defend the United States and other allies under certain conditions — about which the Democratic Party had raised doubts.


Amid speculation that the Party of Hope would also divide amid frustration among its members, Shigefumi Matsuzawa, who heads the party’s upper house members, ruled out such a possibility.


Tamaki said in an interview with Kyodo News earlier in the day, “It is imperative for opposition parties to cooperate in managing Diet affairs,” but also said the two parties did not seek to create a united party from the beginning.

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