Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — A new political party was created on Monday through a merger of two opposition parties — the Democratic Party and Kibo no To (Party of Hope) — with the participation of 62 lawmakers.
The merger is intended to reunite DP-linked forces that split ahead of the October 2017 election of the House of Representatives. Kibo includes DP defectors.
But some key members of the DP and Kibo chose not to join the new party, the Democratic Party for the People. A total of 27 lawmakers left the DP, including former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and former party chief Katsuya Okada.
Explaining why he did not join the new party, Noda told a press conference in Chiba, “I could not see prospects for starting a strong wave of opposition forces coming together.”
Toshio Ogawa, leader of DP lawmakers in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber, and nine other DP members, applied to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
Lower house member Hiroshi Ogushi and former internal affairs minister Shinji Tarutoko, both of Kibo, expressed their intention not to join the new party.
The number of the new party’s inaugural members turned out to be much smaller than the simple addition of DP and Kibo lawmakers, which totaled 107.
Even with the merger, the CDPJ remains the largest opposition party.
The new party chose DP leader Kohei Otsuka and his Kibo counterpart, Yuichiro Tamaki, to serve as coleaders provisionally until a leadership election scheduled for September.
The new party maintained the organizational structure of the DP while changing its name. Kibo members who used to belong to the DP were encouraged to join the new party.
In its platform, the new party describes itself as a middle-of-the-road reformist party.
As part of its basic policies, the new party seeks to achieve “zero nuclear power” in the 2030s and calls for reviewing the country’s national security legislation as needed, including the scrapping of sections claimed to be unconstitutional.