Tokyo–The leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Yukio Edano, said Tuesday he will resign from the post he has held since the party’s founding four years ago, following its poor showing in the general election.
“My inadequacy is the reason this happened,” he said at a party meeting. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart to all of the party executives, to all of our supporters across the country, and most of all to our colleagues who unfortunately were not elected.”
The 57-year-old had criticized the COVID-19 response of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his predecessors, calling for a change in government from the ruling coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party.
But the CDPJ’s presence in the 465-seat House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, shrank from 110 to 96 despite expectations of gains after unifying candidates with other opposition groups including the Japanese Communist Party.
Major supporter Rengo, Japan’s largest labor organization, had been strongly opposed to cooperating with the JCP and said in a statement following the election that the CDPJ had “significant issues to resolve.”
A number of high-profile CDPJ candidates lost in their single-member districts, including heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa in Iwate Prefecture and deputy leader Kiyomi
Tsujimoto in Osaka Prefecture, who failed to even gain a seat under proportional representation.
“It is the CDPJ’s responsibility to take the next step toward becoming an alternative choice for government. In order to do that, I decided we need to work toward next year’s House of Councillors election and the next general election under a new leader,” Edano said.
Edano said he will remain in the post until the end of the special parliamentary session to convene Nov. 10 and that the leadership race will be held soon after.
Well known for his time as the government’s top spokesman during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Edano led a group of liberal lawmakers who moved from the now-defunct Democratic Party to form the CDPJ in October 2017.
CDPJ Secretary General Tetsuro Fukuyama has also voiced his intent to step down to take responsibility for the election result.
“I’m filled with regret that we weren’t able to welcome many of our colleagues back to parliament. My heart is set. We will announce a way forward for our party soon,” Fukuyama tweeted Monday.