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Editorial: CDP’s plan to form joint opposition alliance lacks clarity

  • August 7, 2019
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) has proposed to form a parliamentary alliance with the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) and the Reviewing Group on Social Security Policy, a group comprised of former Democratic Party (DP) legislators, in the House of Representatives.

The CDP will aim to join hands with other opposition parties in confronting the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in an extraordinary Diet session in autumn and take over the reins of government through cooperation over policies such as the elimination of nuclear power and working together in the next lower house election.

 

However, CDP leader Yukio Edano had stuck to the party’s own policy line and repeatedly denied that the party will join hands with any political force for the sole purpose of forming a large bloc in the legislature.

 

The CDP and the DPFP were formed after breaking away from the now-defunct DP, while the Reviewing Group on Social Security Policy comprises former DP legislators who joined neither the CDP nor the DPFP, including former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

 

Questions have been raised over how the CDP will keep consistency between its latest proposal and its past refusal to form a parliamentary alliance with other opposition parties on the grounds that reintegration of former DP legislators into a single group would never win understanding from the public.

 

Edano has suggested that he is aiming for such an alliance for the sole purpose of confronting the huge ruling bloc. “I don’t think our basic stance has changed. We’ve entered a phase in which such a struggle is necessary to counter the high-handedness of the ruling coalition,” he said.

 

If so, the CDP should have taken action much earlier. The opposition camp failed to get to the bottom of favoritism scandals involving two school operators — Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution — and the Finance Ministry’s doctoring of documents on the heavily discounted sale of state-owned land to Moritomo during last year’s regular Diet session, raising questions about the Diet’s function of monitoring the executive branch.

 

Nevertheless, the CDP and the DPFP continued their tug-of-war over the initiative in the opposition camp during this year’s ordinary Diet session. One cannot help but wonder whether Edano has reflected on such actions.

 

What Edano called a “phase” changed apparently in the July 2019 House of Councillors election. The CDP won 17 seats, six more seats than the DPFP but falling far short of the 57 garnered by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Reiwa Shinsengumi, a political group led by actor and politician Taro Yamamoto, captured some of the votes from those critical of the Abe administration while the CDP and the DPFP were preoccupied with their conflict.

 

If the CDP’s influence continues to decline, it could lead to the rise of Reiwa Shinsengumi in the next lower house race. Under such circumstances, the CDP appears to have hastily changed its policy in a bid to take the initiative in fielding joint candidates with other opposition parties in single-seat constituencies in the next lower chamber election.

 

The parliamentary bloc led by the CDP currently has just 70 seats in the lower house. A parliamentary alliance between the CDP, the DPFP and the Reviewing Group on Social Security Policy would have 117 seats, far from enough to counter the ruling bloc that has more than 300 seats.

 

Even though the entire opposition camp is supposed to seriously consider how to overcome the undesirable situation in the Diet, Edano has failed to provide a rational and convincing explanation of the party’s latest proposal to the public.

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