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Rift between CDPJ, DPFP in Upper House on handling workstyle reform bills

In connection with the vote on the work-style reform-related bills at the House of Councillors Committee on Health, Labor, and Welfare on June 28, the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP), the number one opposition floor group in the Upper House, did not go along with the motion for the dismissal of the committee chair submitted by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and others. This disclosed the rift within the opposition camp.


The CDPJ, together with the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Liberal Party, submitted the motion for the dismissal of committee chair Dai Shimamura. Before the submission, CDPJ officers held sporadic meetings in the Diet on how to handle the motion. Party leader Yukio Edano instructed the CDPJ officers to “go right ahead,” so the submission of the motion was decided.


However, the DPFP had decided earlier on to condone the passage of the work-style reform-related bills. A DPFP officer in the Upper House observed cynically, “Submission of such a motion is ineffective. We don’t know what’s the point.”


Both the CDPJ and the DPFP were opposed to the bills in the deliberations in the House of Representatives. The government and ruling parties eventually compromised by removing the provisions on expanding the coverage of the discretionary work system, partly because of the faulty data used by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare to support the bills.


However, these two parties have differed on several occasions in the Upper House. When the CDPJ called on the ruling parties to file a perjury complaint against former National Tax Agency Commissioner Nobuhisa Sagawa over the Moritomo Gakuen affair for violating the Diet Testimony Law, DPFP members of the Upper House were skeptical, opting for “a solution rather than confrontation.”


With regard to the party leaders’ debate, when DPFP Diet Affairs Committee chief in the Upper House Yasue Funayama agreed to hold the debate with the ruling parties, CDPJ Diet Affairs Committee chair in the Upper House Masayoshi Nataniya criticized this as an “improper way for an opposition party to conduct Diet business.” Funayama retorted with: “It is better to chalk up achievements one by one rather than accomplishing nothing.”


The number one opposition floor group in the Lower House is the CDPJ, but the DPFP is the number one group in the Upper House, giving rise to a “twisted” situation. Since the CDPJ takes the lead in the opposition’s Diet strategy in the Lower House, it also wants to lead the opposition parties in the Upper House. However, the DPFP is not about to hand over leadership. The reason behind the rift between these parties is not just policy differences in adopting a “confrontational” or “case-by-case” approach toward the government, but also their rivalry for supremacy in the Diet. (Slightly abridged)

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