Izumi, 3 others readying CDPJ presidential bids

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kenta Izumi, chairperson of the Policy Research Council of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the nation’s main opposition party, is making final arrangements to officially enter the party presidential election that will select a new leader to succeed Yukio Edano, according to sources.

No other CDPJ lawmakers have officially announced their candidacy for the leadership post since Edano expressed his intention to step down about two weeks ago.

Izumi is likely to officially announce his plan to run at a press conference on Wednesday after hearing opinions from the intraparty group he leads on Tuesday afternoon.

Izumi’s group consists of about 20 members, mainly those who were part of a former version of the Democratic Party for the People.

In September last year, the CDPJ at the time sought to merge with the old DPFP, but some DPFP members opted not to join what would become a new CDPJ. Both parties have continued to exist since then under their original party names.

Sources say Izumi’s group may have obtained enough support from party members outside the group to be able to secure nominations from at least 20 Diet members, thus meeting a requirement to run in the leadership race.

Three other party lawmakers are said to be considering running for the election, with the official start of campaigning on Nov. 19 and voting and ballot counting to be held on Nov. 30.

They include Junya Ogawa, a former parliamentary secretary of internal affairs and communications; Chinami Nishimura, a former state minister of health, labor and welfare; and Hiroshi Ogushi, chief of the CDPJ’s Office of the Board Members.

The largest intraparty group, to which Ogawa belongs, did not reach a conclusion at an executive members’ meeting in the Diet Building on Monday.

Shoichi Kondo, a House of Representatives lawmaker, who heads the intraparty group, only told reporters, “We are intent on compiling opinions.”

On the same day, senior members of another intraparty group led by former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, to which Nishimura belongs, also discussed possibly fielding her, but did not make a final decision on how to proceed. No movement has been evident around Ogushi, who does not belong to any group.

Former leader Edano, who founded the CDPJ, served as chief cabinet secretary and in other key posts in Democratic Party of Japan administrations, demonstrating his presence with a top-down style of party management and having been considered the dominant figure in the party.

In contrast, Izumi and the three other possible contenders have little experience holding key party or cabinet posts.

One leading member of the CDPJ expressed concern about its thin human resources, saying, “Our party needs to select a powerful leader who can lead the party to victory in next summer’s House of Councillors election, but we have no one appropriate for that purpose.”

It will not be easy to rebuild the party from the crushing defeat in the lower house election. There are some who say the CDPJ’s united front with the Japanese Communist Party in the election campaign produced certain positive results.

However, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), the largest supporter of the CDPJ, opposed the CDPJ approaching the JCP.

A source related to the party said: “The new leader will face a dilemma between Rengo and the JCP. The post will be a difficult one — whoever serves in it.”