The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) are waging a battle to become the number one opposition floor group in the House of Councillors ahead of the extraordinary Diet session to be convened in late October. With independent Kuniyoshi Noda (elected from the Fukuoka electoral district) announcing his membership in the CDPJ floor group, this group will have 24 members, the same as the current number one DPFP floor group. These two parties have differences on how to handle Diet affairs, and the group that will represent the opposition in negotiating with the ruling parties will affect the deliberation of bills in the extraordinary Diet session.
Noda held a news conference on Oct. 9. Although he said that “many members of my support group and Fukuoka citizens are now urging me to join the CDPJ,” he stopped short of actually announcing his membership in the party. He will only join the CDPJ’s floor group for now. Noda used to be a member of the former Democratic Party of Japan but did not join the DPFP when the new party was formed in May.
The top opposition party, even with just one seat more than the other parties, has powers that the others do not have. It will be able to name the top opposition director in the Diet committees, who is in charge of negotiating with the top ruling party director from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on such matters as deliberation schedules.
It is very rare for two opposition parties to have the same number of floor group members. The Upper House secretariat says that “there has been no such case since 1955. The only option is for the two groups to talk between themselves.” The DPFP plans to recruit other opposition lawmakers to join its floor group before the extraordinary Diet session convenes.
At the last regular Diet session, the number one opposition floor group in the House of Representatives was the CDPJ, while in the Upper House, it was the DPFP. When important bills were being deliberated in the Lower House, CDPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chair Kiyomi Tsujimoto negotiated the schedules with her LDP counterpart Hiroshi Moriyama. In the Upper House, the DPFP succeeded in its strategy of having appendices attached to bills through discussions with the ruling parties. This party was at odds with CDPJ, which adopted an all-out resistance policy.
The DPFP held an election for the chair of its Upper House caucus on Oct. 9 and incumbent Kohei Otsuka was the only candidate. He will be formally reappointed on Oct. 11. If Kazuya Shinba, secretary general, and other officers of its Upper House caucus are also reappointed, the party’s approach to Diet affairs will likely continue.