Will opposition CDPJ offer convincing policies rather than reactive criticism?

It is not enough to have simply decided on the lineup for the “next cabinet.” As the largest opposition party, it is important to put together convincing policies and work steadily to achieve them.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) has established an opposition cabinet as an organ for deciding major policies. CDPJ President Kenta Izumi said, “We will create policies that will be realized when we assume power.” This may be aimed at overcoming the party’s difficult current situation.

The idea is modeled after the “shadow cabinet” formed by the main opposition party in the United Kingdom. In Japan, the former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), before it came to power, once had such a body. The CDPJ, formed in 2017, did not establish a shadow cabinet at the judgment of then party leader Yukio Edano.

After Izumi assumed the post of party president last November, he put forward a “policy proposal” approach and a reconsideration of the CDPJ’s united front with the Japanese Communist Party. However, in the House of Councillors election this summer, the CDPJ lost six of the contested seats it had held before the poll, and in the proportional representation race, it received fewer votes than Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party).

Unless the party is rebuilt from its foundations, the CDPJ cannot take power. Even its position as the largest opposition party could be threatened. It is essential for the party to refine and persistently seek understanding for its policies.

The 13 members of the shadow cabinet are a wide range of people, from young party members to veterans, from both the upper and lower houses. Former Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba was named “foreign and national security minister,” and House of Representatives member Takeshi Shina was named “finance and financial services minister.”

In its campaign pledges on domestic policy for this summer’s upper house election, the CDPJ called for temporarily lowering the consumption tax rate to 5%. In foreign policy, it called for “peace through dialogue.”

There is no way that the CDPJ can run a government with fiscal measures that lack financial grounding and abstract diplomatic pieties.

Recently, the CDPJ appears to have reverted to being a “criticism-only party.”

Regarding former Prime Minister Abe’s state funeral, Izumi had initially said that he wanted to “quietly watch” the event, but when public opinion became less supportive, he turned against it. There is also a noticeable conflict of opinion within the party over attendance at the state funeral.

The CDPJ has also intensified its focus on the relationship between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, more widely known as the Unification Church.

The CDPJ will not gain support by only focusing on such issues.

How should the CDPJ address the issue of strengthening the nation’s defense capability against threats from China, which is building up its military capabilities, and North Korea? How does the party respond to the energy crisis? Measures to support those suffering from high prices are also necessary.

It is important for the CDPJ to present realistic options for various policy issues. If the largest opposition party behaves poorly, the nation’s politics will lose vital tension.

At hearings held by the CDPJ and other opposition parties to question ministry and agency officials, there are noticeably many instances in which Diet members have been verbally abusive, a situation that has been criticized as “bullying of bureaucrats.” The method of relying on mere performance must be changed.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 24, 2022)