By Kihara Tamiyuki
On Nov. 4, Tamaki Yuichiro, the leader of the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP), announced that his party will leave the group composed of the Diet strategy committee chairs of the opposition parties, including the DPFP, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). By moving away from the group, Tamaki hopes to emphasize that his party is charting an independent path focused on “solutions rather than confrontation.”
At a DPFP executive meeting that same day, Tamaki proposed the party leave the group and not participate in the “opposition joint hearing” on Moritomo Gakuen/Kake Gakuen issues. The party executives approved the proposal.
At a press briefing, Tamaki explained: “We won’t be able to respond to the people’s wishes by solely focusing on confronting the ruling parties,” pointing out that the DPFP added three Lower House seats to its numbers with a campaign pledge of seeking “solutions rather than confrontation.” “We have reset our relationship with the other opposition parties. We will keep an equal distance with each party from now on and make decisions based on individual policies,” Tamaki said.
Tamaki intends to keep a distance from the CDPJ, whose leader Edano Yukio resigned recently. “It is difficult to go along with them because they are pretty attached to the JCP,” said Tamaki.
“All CDPJ candidates who were vociferously criticizing the [ruling parties’] administration at opposition hearings lost the election,” analyzed a senior DPFP member, suggesting that the DPFP left the group led by the CDPJ to avoid being viewed as associated with the opposition parties that are “only good at criticizing others.”
Hopes for working with Ishin
Although the DPFP demonstrated its intention to chart its own path, the party has only 11 seats in the Lower House, below the 20 needed to introduce a bill.
For this reason, some in the DPFP have high hopes to coordinate actions with Nippon Ishin no Kai [Japan Innovation Party], which saw a dramatic increase in its Lower House seats to 41. Together, the two parties will be able to submit a budget bill, which requires 50 signatures. In the past, the two parties jointly introduced bills in the Upper House, including a bill to reduce the number of Diet seats.
At the DPFP executive meeting on Nov. 4, a suggestion was made that the DPFP cooperate with Ishin ahead of the Upper House election. “We share more policy goals with Ishin than with the CDPJ,” a senior DPFP member said. “The DPFP and Ishin can form a significant ‘middle-of-the-road’ coalition.”
On Nov. 1, Tamaki said: “I am willing to join hands with Ishin in areas where cooperation is possible, as long as our policies match.” Ishin leader Matsui Ichiro has responded less enthusiastically, however. “[The DPFP] should not talk about such a thing before we even know about it at all,” said Matsui at a press conference on Nov. 2.
The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), a DPFP support base, also has members who are skeptical about the DPFP’s desire to work with Ishin. A senior DPFP member said: “It is possible that the CDPJ will disintegrate, and some members would choose to join us. It would be better if we stayed neutral for the time being.”