CDPJ pays price for opposition cooperation

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano speaks during a press conference on Sunday in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

In Sunday’s House of Representatives election, the cooperation among the leading opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and four other parties proved to be an unsuccessful strategy.

The opposition front comprising the CDPJ, the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party for the People, Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party consolidated support for one candidate in 213 single-seat constituencies.

Some CDPJ members had expressed concerns over strengthened cooperation with the JCP.

The CDPJ secured only 96 seats compared to the previously held 110 seats, triggering calls for party leader Yukio Edano and other executive members to take responsibility for the defeat.

“I’d like to analyze the overall situation and the results of the election ahead of the upper house election [next year],” Edano said during a press conference held late on Sunday.

The CDPJ and JCP had agreed that the JCP would provide limited cooperation in the event of an opposition victory. With a nationwide network of local organizations, the JCP is said to have 20,000 to 30,000 supporters in each constituency.

However, some CDPJ candidates disapproved of even limited cooperation with the JCP — which has differences with the CDPJ in terms of its basic policies and national outlook.

CDPJ candidates were concerned that if they publicized the cooperation with the JCP they would lose backing from the party’s traditional supporters or voters with no party affiliation. Some candidates did not even mention the cooperation during their election campaigns.

“Cooperating with the JCP is out of the question,” said Tomoko Yoshino, the president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), a major support organization of the CDPJ. Some labor unions in Rengo chose not to back the CDPJ, reflecting the disapproval of the move among members of the confederation.

“The public views [the cooperation between the CDPJ and the JCP] as a prioritization of party interests over policies,” said Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the DPFP which also receives support from Rengo.

Edano said at a press conference on Sunday that his party “had received general understanding” from Rengo and other support organizations regarding the aim of the CDPJ-JCP cooperation. “But it’s true that there were a few things we did not sufficiently convey,” he said.

CDPJ candidates stood in 160 of the 213 constituencies where the five opposition parties cooperated, a figure that was achievable mainly because the JCP decided not to field candidates in many constituencies.

In the election campaign, the CDPJ called for expanding benefits to middle- and lower-income earners and placing more burden on higher-income earners and large corporations, rivaling the policy of improved wealth distribution that has been promoted by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Aiming to revive “a society of 100 million middle-class people,” the CDPJ vowed to introduce a progressive corporate tax rate, raise the top income tax rate and adopt a temporary income tax exemption for people earning ¥10 million or less per year as a measure to support households amid the pandemic.

The CDPJ can trace its roots back to the party that emerged after a split in the now-defunct Democratic Party just before the 2017 lower house election.

That party won 55 seats in the 2017 lower house election. In September last year, more than half the lawmakers in the Democratic Party for the People joined the CDPJ, creating a party of 107 lower house members and 43 upper house members at the time.