Tokyo, June 30 (Jiji Press)–Two major opposition parties–the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People–are engaged in a fierce battle in the Kagawa prefectural constituency in the July 10 House of Councillors election, while a ruling party incumbent is seeking re-election.
This battle has turned into one where both parties’ reputation is on the line, since the western prefecture includes the constituencies of CDP policy chief Junya Ogawa and DPFP head Yuichiro Tamaki.
As the opposition camp failed to work together in the Kagawa constituency, where only one seat will be contested, other opposition parties including Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) and the Japanese Communist Party have also fielded their candidates.
Gleefully observing the opposition parties’ tumult, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is hoping to profit from the commotion.
“People’s daily lives won’t get better if the current administration stays on,” Ogawa told a kickoff rally held for CDP candidate Kunio Moteki on the morning of June 22, the day when the official campaign period for the election started. He underscored the need for a clear alternative.
The CDP fielding its own candidate in Kagawa was heavily influenced by the DPFP backing the government’s fiscal 2022 budget, a rare move by an opposition party.
This CDP decision was spearheaded by Ogawa, head of the party’s Kagawa prefectural chapter. Labeling the DPFP as “part of or a complementary force for” the LDP-Komeito ruling coalition, Ogawa has said the CDP will “place a proper flag of the middle-of-the-road liberalism.”
Ogawa and Tamaki attended the same high school in Kagawa, with Ogawa two years junior to Tamaki. Both advanced to the University of Tokyo and became central government bureaucrats.
Meanwhile, Ogawa started his political career earlier than Tamaki. Also having served a term longer as lawmaker, Ogawa sees himself as the opposition leader in Kagawa.
Still, Tamaki, a House of Representatives member from the Kagawa No. 2 constituency, has strong popularity in the prefecture. Under the proportional representation system, his party, among opposition parties, garnered the most votes in Kagawa both in last year’s House of Representatives election and the 2019 House of Councillors poll.
A CDP official has voiced the party’s eagerness to become the main opposition party in Kagawa. “We want to beat the DPFP. That’s our only motivation,” the party official said.
DPFP candidate Shoko Mitani, meanwhile, is aiming to gather more votes than her CDP counterpart in the Kagawa No. 1 constituency, CDP policy chief Ogawa’s home ground.
Mitani hopes to expand support by using Tamaki’s popularity. The DPFP leader attended remotely Mitani’s campaign kickoff event on June 22. On Wednesday, Tamaki visited the prefecture to ask voters to support her.
Among other opposition parties, the JCP initially sought to make candidate adjustment with the CDP in Kagawa, but with no response from the CDP, it decided to run its own candidate.
The ruling LDP’s incumbent, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki, seems increasingly confident about winning a third term. “If opposition parties had united to challenge us, that could have posed a threat,” said an official of Isozaki’s campaign. “But we were saved.”
Despite the opposition disarray in the July 10 election, the CDP still holds onto the possibility of the CDP and the DPFP uniting their candidates in future national elections. “The DPFP is our brother,” a CDP official said.
A senior JCP official in Kagawa also said, “The foundation for a united opposition front has not collapsed.”
A senior official of the DPFP’s Kagawa branch admitted that it is more preferable to have fewer opposition candidates. But he noted, “It seems difficult to form a united opposition front.”