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Establishing new party by juggling numbers will not win public support

The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is essential for two of the main opposition parties to develop realistic and thoroughly weighed policies, thereby creating a setup for confronting the government and ruling parties. If their ongoing move is to revive the pre-split Democratic Party, no prospects will open up for them.

Seeking to form a new party in May, the DP and Kibo no To (Party of Hope) have started talks over a new platform and policies. This reflects their judgment that they will not be able to successfully fight in next year’s unified local elections and House of Councillors election as their support rates remain low.

The initial DP broke up into three parties prior to the House of Representatives election last October. Two of the three are attempting to reunite themselves only seven months after the breakup. The last of the three, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, appears reluctant over the new party move.

DP President Kohei Otsuka still shows an eagerness to merge with the CDPJ, saying, “To the last minute, I’ll continue efforts to unite [opposition] forces.” Kibo leader Yuichiro Tamaki said, “I want to topple the Abe administration and create a political party that can be trusted by the public.”

The envisaged new party could outnumber the CDPJ in the lower house to become the largest opposition party. The new party needs to cement its organizational basis and gather sufficient strength for taking over the reins of government.

Needless to say, policy consensus must be the pivot of efforts to rally their forces.

It is worrying that in their eagerness, above all else, to make up numbers for greater strength, they have neglected to hold sufficient discussions aimed at boiling the substance of policies down to their essentials.

Avoid rehash of DP policies

The draft of the new party’s basic policy incorporates a plan to give the security-related legislation “necessary reconsideration, including the deletion of portions that have been pointed out as unconstitutional,” a move in line with the DP’s position. This is also true of an amendment to the Constitution. The draft shows a policy of opposing the idea of writing the Self-Defense Forces into Article 9 of the top law.

In its policy pledge for the last lower house election, Kibo endorsed the security-related laws, saying, “We will free ourselves from futile antagonism between the ruling and opposition parties.” The party also said it was ready to promote discussions about an amendment to Article 9. Was Kibo’s election promise nothing but an appeal aimed at winning conservative votes?

The new party’s security policy has more than a few points that agree with those of the CDPJ, which receives the backing of such groups as the Japan Teachers’ Union, a strongly left-leaning member of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation. It is easy to see that the stance is aimed at encouraging the CDPJ to join the new party.

The draft includes a conspicuous number of domestic policies that were implemented by the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan but virtually aborted, such as paying allowances for dependent children and reviving a system for paying income compensation to individual farming households for their rice-cultivation acreage reductions. It is important to come up with realistic policies for which financial resources are certain to be procured, rather than exhibiting an assortment of policies suited to curry favor with voters.

Tamaki and CDPJ leader Yukio Edano have taken the podium to raise questions in the Diet, regarding such problems as the one concerning the Moritomo Gakuen school corporation. Both parties have many members skillful in debating scandal-focused issues. Their leaders will be advised to devote themselves to debating issues from a broad perspective.

Despite a decline in the Cabinet’s approval rating, there has been no increase in the support rate for each opposition party. The party should act as one and persistently assert its principles and policies to voters. Making such steady efforts is indispensable for them.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 16, 2018)Speech



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