Opposition CDPJ Marks 3 Months with Lingering Issues ahead of Election

Tuesday marked the third month since the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was formed, and while the party has become a sizeable voting block, its dismal approval rating remains stagnant at around 5%.

The party, with 151 members comprising 108 in the House of Representatives and 43 in the House of Councillors, has issues remaining from the time of its formation, such as coordinating electoral districts and aligning on government policies, and there are no clear prospects for the next lower house election.

“It’s been a short period of three months, but we’ve made some progress in building the party,” CDPJ secretary general Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters at the Diet Building on Monday.

Party leader Yukio Edano, looking back on the three months, told reporters in Tokyo on Saturday, “Things are progressing smoothly, three times as much as I had initially expected.”

However, contrary to the words of the party executives, there is a mountain of issues to be resolved.

The CDPJ was formed through the merger of the former CDPJ and the former Democratic Party for the People. As both parties had already decided on candidates for the next lower house election, the merger produced an overlap of candidates in nine constituencies. The party aimed to work things out in October, and the matter was settled in all but Niigata Constituency No. 6. However, coordination with the Japanese Communist Party and other opposition parties remains to be done.

For the opposition parties, it is imperative to create one-on-one situations against the ruling parties in single-seat constituencies during the lower house elections. However, “Until we work things out within our own party, we can’t negotiate with other parties,” a senior CDPJ official said.

The aftereffects of the merger also linger in terms of policy.

The CDPJ had planned to formulate a basic policy that would embody the party’s platform by the end of November. Three meetings of the full membership were held to exchange opinions, but consensus has been beyond reach on whether or not to include complete elimination of the nation’s nuclear power generation.

In talks prior to the merger, the former CDPJ insisted on the early realization of zero nuclear power generation, while the former DPFP, which had close ties to private sector labor unions, took a cautious approach. This confrontation continues to this day and, as a result, Kenta Izumi, policy chief of the CDPJ, announced that formulation of the policy would be temporarily suspended, with finalization postponed until after the start of the ordinary session of the Diet in January next year.

Dissatisfaction also smolders over the party management.

In the extraordinary session of the Diet, several members skipped the plenary vote on a special amendment to the Civil Code to clarify legal parent-child relationships for children born through fertility treatments using donated sperm or eggs, even though the party endorsed the bill. No punitive action was taken by the party, and a member of the House of Councillors who had joined from the former DPFP criticized the party, saying, “You can’t maintain discipline like this.”

One young member of the party added, “The party is not battle-ready for elections. We have no choice but to win on our own through thorough local activities.”