In the gloom of a post-mortem lower house election, the main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, was forced to question whether joining forces with the Communist Party of Japan was the right thing to do. .
This collaboration is still being questioned with an election to the Upper House looming on the horizon by next July.
Rengo (Japan Confederation of Trade Unions), which is the base of support for the CDP, has been unhappy with the CDP, including the JCP, in the opposition bloc’s new efforts to present a unified slate of candidates in the October 31 elections.
However, Yukio Edano, head of the CDP, gave a positive turn to the cooperation between the opposition camp during a press conference on the night of October 31.
“We could generate some results because our candidates have been fighting neck and neck in the constituencies where the Liberal Democratic Party is supposed to have a solid base,” said Edano.
The most spectacular success came when his two rookies beat the LDP heavyweights.
Harumi Yoshida, who beat Nobuteru Ishihara, an LDP veteran who was previously the LDP’s general secretary. Another new face of the CDP, Hideshi Futori, has beaten Akira Amari, the sitting secretary general of the LDP.
But the CDP bigwigs also lost in constituencies – for some, a first in their long political careers.
Ichiro Ozawa and Banri Kaieda, who both led the Democratic Party of Japan, the predecessor of the CDP, have been defeated, but they will return to the Diet via the proportional representation segment.
Former Construction Minister Kishiro Nakamura, Kiyomi Tsujimoto, deputy head of the CDP, and Hirofumi Hirano, head of the election campaign of the CDP, failed to secure seats in the single-member constituency. But only Nakamura could access the Diet through proportional representation.
A development symbolizing the struggle of CDP veterans is the Edano race. His victory did not become certain until after midnight, showing the close struggle in which even the party leader was forced to engage.
The CDP added nine more seats in constituencies at the end of the day, up from 48 before the election.
But the party’s overall 96-seat representation, which includes seats won in the proportional representation segment, is well below the roughly 140 that set the benchmark for threatening the PLD’s one-party control over the lower house.
One of the reasons the CDP has not made progress could be that its decision to work with the JCP backfired, some analysts say.
Edano was originally cautious about working with the JCP, but eventually got on board when the JCP pushed for common policies and electoral cooperation.
At the end of September, Edano made it clear that if the CDP took power, the JCP would cooperate even if its lawmakers did not join the administration.
There are many unions in Rengo which oppose the CDP’s cooperation with the JCP. Their reluctance to side with unified opposition candidates could be a factor behind their low losses in some districts.
However, the woes of the CDP may run deeper than the involvement of the JCP. The CDP has not been able to gain the attention of voters in recent years, with its support rate hovering around 5%.
In a poll conducted on October 19 and 20 by The Asahi Shimbun, 54% of those polled said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of the LDP was fit to serve as prime minister, while only 14% supported Edano.