Survey: Runoff likely in Japan’s largest opposition party’s leadership race

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s leadership race candidates; from left, Kenta Izumi, Junya Ogawa, Seiji Osaka and Chinami Nishimura; pose for photos after a debate held in Sapporo on Sunday.

A runoff between the top two candidates is becoming increasingly likely in the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s four-way leadership election scheduled for Nov. 30, according to a survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun of the 140 CDPJ Diet members.

The CDPJ — the country’s largest opposition party — has 96 members in the House of Representatives and 44 in the House of Councillors. A total of 138 responded to the survey.

In the survey, CDPJ Policy Research Council Chairperson Kenta Izumi, 47, was leading with the support of slightly less than 30% of the Diet members, followed by 50-year-old Junya Ogawa, 62-year-old Seiji Osaka and 54-year-old Chinami Nishimura.

Ogawa and Osaka are former parliamentary vice ministers of internal affairs and communications, and Nishimura is a former state minister of health, labor and welfare.

In the party’s leadership race, ballots are calculated using a points-based system. Each Diet member is allotted two points, or a total of 280 points, accounting for about half of the 572 points in total. In addition, eligible voters consist of candidates expected to run in next summer’s upper house election (a total of 6 points), local assembly members (a total of 143 points) and rank-and-file party members and supporters (a total of 143 points).

Taking into consideration the other groups of voters, no candidate is expected to secure a majority needed to win in the first round of voting.

Regarding the Diet member votes as of Sunday, Izumi had secured 78 points, followed by Ogawa with 54 points, Osaka with 46 points and Nishimura with 42 points. About 20% of the lawmakers did not disclose their stance.

Izumi has largely solidified the support of a 22-member group called the “new administration study group” that he leads, as well as a group of about 10 members led by lower house member Ichiro Ozawa.

Ogawa is expanding his support across different groups of CDPJ lawmakers. Backing for Osaka centers around the party’s largest group, dubbed “sanctuary” and comprising 27 members, while Nishimura’s foundation consists mainly of lawmakers who advocated for her to run in the election.