• Yomiuri Editorial

Cooperation among Opposition Parties: Is Calling for More Benefits, Lower Burdens Their ‘Missions’?

Opposition parties cannot win public support just by talking about expanding the provision of benefits and reducing burdens. It is essential to formulate realistic and constructive policies backed by financial resources.

Opposition parties cannot win public support just by talking about expanding the provision of benefits and reducing burdens. It is essential to formulate realistic and constructive policies backed by financial resources.

Kenta Izumi, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), has proposed the concept of a “mission-oriented cabinet” to other opposition parties. The idea is to list policies that all the parties can agree on and to form a coalition government focused only on the realization of those common policies.

The aim of the proposal is to unite the opposition parties in preparation for the next House of Representatives election.

Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) has proposed the realization of free education as its signature policy. The Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) is strongly committed to invoking the “trigger clause,” which temporarily lowers gasoline taxes. All three parties, including the CDPJ, are opposed to raising taxes to secure funds to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Izumi listed these ideas as examples of “missions” for the opposition parties.

There is currently no momentum for cooperation among the opposition parties for the next lower house election. Ishin intends to actively field candidates in constituencies including those where Izumi himself and CDPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada plan to run. It has been argued that if this situation continues, opposition party candidates will lose together in many constituencies.

The CDPJ’s advocacy of a coalition government may also be motivated by a desire to unify opposition party candidates.

Generally speaking, it could be possible for the opposition parties to cooperate in elections to break free from the situation in which there are many weak parties.

However, it is problematic that the common policies listed by Izumi are biased toward the provision of benefits. How would the government finance free education and the strengthening of defense capabilities? Without a clear basis and the means to realize his policies, Izumi cannot avoid being accused of seeking popularity for the sake of elections.

Izumi has also stated that, with the exception of the common policies, the CDPJ will follow the policies of the current coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.

Izumi may want to emphasize that even if an opposition bloc comes to power, there is no need to worry about whether the current basic policies on such matters as diplomacy, defense and social security will continue. However, maintaining the current policies and only increasing benefits is just a list of demands and does not deserve to be called a concept for governing.

The approval rating of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has reached its lowest level since its inauguration, but the opposition parties have failed to garner the public’s expectations. The executive members of each opposition party should sincerely consider the reasons for this.

They need to present convincing solutions to issues such as the deteriorating security environment and declining population.

Izumi is also calling on the Japanese Communist Party to join this proposed coalition.

The JCP, which seeks to realize communism and socialism in Japan, certainly holds different philosophies and basic policies from such parties as the CDPJ and Ishin. Cooperation among those parties should be criticized as nothing but an unprincipled alliance of convenience.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 23, 2024)