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New Japan opposition leader seeks to battle LDP on policy

  • December 1, 2021
  • , Nikkei Asia , 9:40 a.m.
  • English Press

YUKI NAKAMURA, Nikkei staff writer


TOKYO — Kenta Izumi will face the daunting task of rebuilding Japan’s Constitutional Democratic Party into a formidable political force after its lackluster performance in the October general election.


The 47-year-old Izumi — who replaces the resigning Yukio Edano as party leader — plans to do so by shedding the top opposition party’s image as “an incessant critic” of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He wants to win over voters with attractive policy proposals instead. 


“People tend to think of us as always fighting with the LDP,” said Izumi on Tuesday. “We have been neglecting efforts to explain [our policy] to voters.” 


Originally from Hokkaido, Izumi first got involved with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), a predecessor of the Constitutional Democrats, as a volunteer while attending Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. After graduating, he served as a secretary to upper house lawmaker Tetsuro Fukuyama.


His father served as a member of the Ishikari city assembly in Hokkaido.


At the age of 25, Izumi made his first run for a seat in the lower house in 2000. Although he lost, he ran again in 2003, this time successfully, and has remained in the chamber ever since. During the DPJ’s brief stint in power, he served as a parliamentary secretary in the Cabinet Office, where he worked on revising legislation to provide child care support.


When the successor party to the DPJ split in 2017, Izumi ran under the banner of the new Party of Hope led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike. Later, he took senior posts in the Democratic Party for the People (DPP), another opposition party to the right of the Constitutional Democrats.


After the DPP merged with the Constitutional Democrats last year, Izumi ran head-to-head against party founder Yukio Edano for leadership. Although he lost that race, he was tapped as the party’s policy chief.


He later established a parliamentary group made up mainly of fellow ex-DPP members, setting himself up as a potential successor to Edano.


Izumi has a wife, three children and a rabbit named Chiffon. He played first base on his high school baseball team, and in an interview with a sports newspaper, he said — while wearing a mitt — that he would “catch” the voices of the public.


Izumi enjoys cooking and DIY, and posts about projects on social media.

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