Leader of Japan’s CDPJ Facing Backlash As Party Lags Behind Rival

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kenta Izumi, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, gives a speech at a party meeting in the Diet on Monday.

Members of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan are increasingly dissatisfied with party leader Kenta Izumi, as the CDPJ’s prolonged stagnation has it lagging behind Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) in its approval rating and other areas.

Izumi has also failed to secure understanding, both within and outside the CDPJ, regarding his policies on campaign cooperation in the next House of Representatives election..

On Monday, Izumi attended a meeting to exchange views with young people at the Diet building, where he said he would reflect the views of young people in the CDPJ’s policies. “I want to listen to your opinions for the future and incorporate them into party management,” he said.

Some CDPJ members have lamented that a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey, conducted June 23-25, found that voters had no expectations regarding their party. The approval rating for the party stood at just 4%, lower than the 6% for Ishin.

The CDPJ’s approval rating has been below that of Ishin for three consecutive months. Nine percent of respondents in the survey said they would vote for the CDPJ in the proportional representation segment of the next lower election, lower than the 13% who picked Ishin.

Asked which opposition party they think should take the lead against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 40% selected Ishin, significantly more than the 26% who preferred the CDPJ. Among the respondents who supported a particular opposition party, 36% selected the CDPJ and 53% opted for Ishin.

Of respondents with no party affiliation, 23% picked the CDPJ and 35% chose Ishin.

In response to the survey results, Nippon Ishin leader Nobuyuki Baba put some distance between his party and the CDPJ, saying, “Political parties that just put on a performance in the Diet will cease to exist.”

Izumi’s leadership has also been compromised by the fact that the CDPJ’s campaign policies for the next lower house election have not been determined.

The CDPJ leader had rejected the possibility of cooperating with the Japanese Communist Party in the election. However, as Ichiro Ozawa and some other CDPJ members have started to publicly call for fielding joint opposition candidates, Izumi indicated that he might change his stance.

“I’ll think about various options from a wider perspective,” he said.

The JCP is asking the CDPJ to continue negotiations, saying it would not exclude the possibility of cooperation with the CDPJ. At the same time, it has been preparing to field its own candidates across the country.

By Monday, the JCP had named a total of 86 candidates, including one for Kyoto Constituency No. 3, from which Izumi was elected to the Diet. The JCP and the CDPJ will face each other in 32 single-seat constituencies.

The JCP is increasing pressure on the CDPJ, not hesitating to confront them head-on in the election.

If Izumi fails to resolve the situation, some CDPJ members may try to get him to step down, with an eye on the dissolution of the lower house and the general election, which are rumored to take place in autumn at the earliest.

However, there is no lawmaker who would currently be accepted by many members as a replacement for Izumi. Many are now feeling helpless as a result, with a young member saying, “We’re up against the wall.”