2017 Lower House Election / Opposition camp faces split ahead of election

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe outlook for election cooperation between the opposition parties dramatically changed after the newly formed Kibo no To (Party of Hope) led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike decided to accept a number of recently incumbent House of Representatives members from the Democratic Party and Liberal Party.

The development undercut a potential deal between the DP, LP, Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party to back unity candidates, resulting in a division of the opposition parties into an alliance led by Kibo no To and a JCP-SDP alliance.

Another opposition party, Nippon Ishin no Kai, is also interested in cooperating with Kibo no To ahead of the upcoming lower house election. Nippon Ishin no Kai initially planned to field candidates in seven constiuencies in Tokyo but now will likely refrain from doing so. In the July Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites first group), a regional party led by Koike, scored a resounding victory. With that in mind, Nippon Ishin no Kai plans not to field candidates in Tokyo as Kibo no To aims to field its own candidates in all 25 single-seat constituencies in Tokyo, except for Tokyo Constituency No. 12.

Nippon Ishin no Kai leader Ichiro Matsui, who is also governor of Osaka, told reporters Thursday in Osaka, “There’s no need to force a fight as long as we share the same political ideals.”

Kibo no To is likewise taking into consideration Nippon Ishin no Kai’s strength in Osaka Prefecture as it considers fielding candidates in the prefecture.

Meanwhile, JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii criticized the DP’s effective merger with Kibo no To on Thursday, calling it a “serious act of betrayal.”

“If DP candidates are endorsed by Kibo no To, the JCP will field its own candidates [against them],” Shii said.

Prior to Shii’s comments, Akira Koike, head of the JCP secretariat, held talks with SDP Secretary General Seiji Mataichi and agreed to a consolidation of candidates for the upcoming election.

In the House of Councillors election held in July last year, the DP, JCP, People’s Life Party and SDP joined forces and performed well, winning 11 single-seat constituencies out of a total of 32. If the opposition parties fail to consolidate their candidates for the election, they risk splitting the vote against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. A mid-ranking Liberal Democratic Party member hopes for a split, saying that opposition failure to consolidate “may benefit the ruling parties.”Speech

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