It has long been pointed out that opposition parties are not competent enough to counter ruling parties. The question is whether the new party will be able to come up with bold policies and establish a system to squarely face the government and ruling parties.
An election was held to select the representative of the new party that comprises the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, some members of the Democratic Party for the People and others. CDPJ leader Yukio Edano defeated Kenta Izumi, who moves from the DPFP to the new party. At the same time, another election was conducted to decide the name of the new party and it was decided that “Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan” would continue to be used, as advocated by Edano.
A total of 149 lawmakers — 88 from the CDPJ, 40 from the DPFP and 21 independents — are expected to join the new party. The term for House of Representatives members will expire in October next year. It is understandable that opposition party lawmakers are rallying to try to change what are described as “many weak parties” in preparation for the lower house election, which is virtually an election to select a new administration.
After the election to select the leader of the new party, Edano said, “We’ll swiftly and steadily expedite preparations to win a general election.”
However, it is hard to say that there is a growing sense of excitement over the formation of the new party. It is difficult for voters to understand the difference between the conventional CDPJ and the new merged party, and they apparently see the merger of two opposition parties as only “juggling numbers” to make up enough lawmakers for greater strength.
If the new party remains a “resistance opposition party” only focusing on criticizing the administration, it will not be able to garner support. Based on clear ideals and realistic policies, it should boldly engage in debates with the new administration that will be inaugurated soon.
Edano’s assertion during the leadership election campaign raises concerns. As measures to support households to fight the novel coronavirus, he mentioned a cut in the consumption tax rate and an income tax exemption for those with annual incomes of ¥10 million or less. He is said to plan to make up for the shortfall in financial resources with such measures as imposing heavier taxes on profitable companies.
As various benefits are being provided to fight the infectious disease, the fiscal situation has become tight. It cannot be said that bold tax cuts are realistic.
Edano said that a plan should be stopped to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture. The administration of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of the then Democratic Party of Japan had insisted that the air base must be relocated “at least outside the prefecture,” leading to the current confusion. It is irresponsible for Edano to oppose the plan without considering such circumstances.
On the other hand, there are only a dozen lawmakers left in the DPFP, which had 62 Diet members before the merger.
Hopefully, the DPFP will stick to its political style of making proposals to place importance on policies. As lawmakers who come from private labor unions remain in the DPFP, many predict that the CDPJ will further strengthen its leftist stance in the future.
Lower house member Ichiro Ozawa of the DPFP has been deeply involved in the realignment of opposition parties on this occasion. He urged Edano, who sticks to the CDPJ name, to make concessions, and brought about the vote to decide the new party’s name that DPFP members had demanded.
In addition to Ozawa, veteran lawmakers who had been at the center of the administration of the former DPJ, including former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and former Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, both of whom are independent, will join the new party. Will Edano be able to exercise his leadership to dispel the conventional CDPJ’s negative image? He also needs to make efforts to nurture mid-career and younger lawmakers.