Party Should Present Its Own Specific Security Policies

An important role of an opposition party is to challenge the political stance of the Cabinet, pursue administrative problems and try to improve the issues. However, it leaves much to be desired if the opposition focuses solely on such efforts. They need to present policies that can be trusted by voters.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has held its party convention and adopted a fiscal 2023 action plan, which states that the party will “deepen policy-by-policy cooperation with other opposition parties.”

The CDPJ may have in mind joint efforts with Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), with which it deepened cooperation last year over a law to prevent solicitations of excessive donations in response to problems linked to the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. It is noteworthy that the government, ruling parties and opposition parties combined their efforts to create concrete legislation.

However, there is a large gap between the CDPJ and Ishin in terms of their views on the Constitution and security policies. Even if the two parties come together, the public will not have high expectations for their cooperation because they differ in philosophy and basic policies.

After assuming the post in November 2021, CDPJ head Kenta Izumi said he aimed to lead the party with an immediate emphasis on a policy-oriented approach. However, under pressure from members of his party, he has recently shifted his focus to criticizing the government.

No matter which course he focuses on, the party’s approval rating remains stagnant. For this reason, Izumi now appears to have failed to establish his position.

The CDPJ must first rebuild the foundations of the party. As the largest opposition group, the party must propose realistic policies that can compete with those of the government.

Security policies are of particular importance. In his speech at the party convention, Izumi said: “Tensions are rising with neighboring countries. We’ll continue dialogue and make efforts to create a peaceful environment.” However, he did not mention what Japan’s defense capabilities should be like.

Diplomatic efforts through dialogue are important. But unless Japan possesses sufficient defense capabilities, other countries will see through its weakness, and it is impossible to hope for results to be produced through dialogue.

The CDPJ cannot take over the reins of government if it disregards security policies. Izumi should clearly indicate what level of defense spending and what kind of equipment his party thinks is appropriate. As the leader, Izumi might have to persuade the leftists in the party who are cautious about enhancing the nation’s defense capabilities.

It is also essential to make efforts to strengthen the party’s footing by building support organizations in various parts of the country.

The CDPJ’s local lawmakers and rank-and-file party members number around 10% of those of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Party membership reportedly also has been on the decline. Is it possible for the CDPJ to expand its support in the unified local elections this spring and make the elections an opportunity to embark on an offensive?

The CDPJ calls the period since the LDP’s return to power in 2012 “the lost decade” and is examining its policies during the period.

The administrations led by the Democratic Party of Japan, the predecessor of the CDPJ, lost support because it made many unfeasible election campaign promises. Now is not the time for the party to set aside its own failures and find fault with other parties.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 22, 2023)