CDPJ candidates launch campaigns to lead Japan’s largest opposition party

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leadership candidates Chinami Nishimura, Kenta Izumi, Junya Ogawa and Seiji Osaka hold a press conference at party headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Friday.

Campaigning kicked off Friday for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s leadership race following the disastrous defeat of the nation’s largest opposition party in the Oct. 31 House of Representatives election.

The four candidates standing in the race are Kenta Izumi, 47, chairperson of the CDPJ Policy Research Council, and Chinami Nishimura, 54, a former state minister of health, labor and welfare, as well as Seiji Osaka, 62, and Junya Ogawa, 50, who are both former parliamentary vice ministers of internal affairs and communications.

The leadership election was triggered by the resignation of Yukio Edano, who stood down after the lower house poll.

Those eligible to vote in the race comprise 140 CDPJ lawmakers (96 from the lower house and 44 from the House of Councillors), candidates who plan to run for the Diet seats, and local assembly members, as well as rank-and-file party members and supporters.

The new leader will be elected at an extraordinary party convention to be held in Tokyo on Nov. 30.

Under the party’s rules, ballots are calculated using a points-based system. If no candidate secures a majority in the first round of voting, a run-off election will be held between the top two candidates.

On Friday morning, staff from each camp submitted the necessary documents to CDPJ headquarters and in the afternoon the four candidates held a joint press conference.

Support for the candidates is spread evenly in the party, with some members predicting a close race. “There’s a good chance there will be a runoff,” a veteran CDPJ lawmaker said.

The main issue in the leadership race is expected to be the direction the party should take regarding future cooperation with the Japanese Communist Party in elections, which is said to have led to the CDPJ’s defeat in the last lower house poll.

Osaka and Nishimura, have indicated they will take the same path as Edano, who promoted collaboration with the JCP, while Izumi has talked of reviewing the strategy.

Osaka, Nishimura and Ogawa were members of the CDPJ before the party absorbed members of the Democratic Party for the People in 2020, while Izumi joined the CDPJ from the DPFP.