The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) and the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) are taking significantly different approaches to the agreement under which the JCP “will extend limited support to the government from outside the cabinet” if the CDPJ takes the helm of government following the upcoming Lower House election. The CDPJ, which wants to gain widespread support including from conservatives, is not actively promoting the agreement in its election campaign, while the JCP is touting the “united opposition front” widely in a bid to expand its influence.
On Oct. 26, CDPJ leader Edano Yukio called for a change of government during a stump speech in Miyazaki City. He said: “We are making detailed proposals and preparations for a change [in government]. I want you to give us power.” Edano did not mention his party’s election cooperation with the JCP at all in the city’s Miyazaki No. 1 constituency, where the JCP did not field a candidate.
On the other hand, JCP leader Shii Kazuo gave a speech in Nagano City on the same day and underscored the significance of the agreement with the CDPJ, saying, “A serious united front is necessary to achieve a change of government.” The CDPJ and the JCP have different foreign and security policies. But Shii has repeatedly highlighted the united opposition front in previous stump speeches.
The contrasting remarks by the two leaders are attributable to their different mindsets. The CDPJ adopts a strategy of increasing its votes by securing the JCP’s votes, whose number is said to be about 20,000 in each constituency, while at the same time obtaining cooperation from the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), which distances itself from the JCP. A CDPJ insider reveals, “Emphasizing our relationship with the JCP would deprive us of the votes of people who are averse to the JCP.”
The JCP withdrew its candidates in 22 constituencies where they were competing against CDPJ candidates immediately before the election was officially announced and began to support the CDPJ. The JCP aims to capture votes from people who are against the government by insisting on its part in the united opposition front to avoid being left in limbo in the proportional representation segment.
Both Edano and Shii participated in a meeting held by a civic group that supports the united opposition front in Tokyo on Oct. 23. But they were not seen together and only Shii posed for commemorative photos with the meeting’s participants.
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Vice-President Aso Taro criticized them and said, “Something like a ‘Constitutional Communist Party’ is being created.” LDP Secretary-General Amari Akira also said, “Japan has never had a government in which the JCP has been directly involved in decision making.” Some in the CDPJ have expressed wariness by saying, “We’ll be in trouble if the JCP steps up its ‘clinging strategy’ and eventually pulls us into its camp.”