Japan Opposition Officials Seek Dissolution of Democratic Party

  • Maehara, Hosono seek to join DPJ with Innovation Party: Kyodo
  • Japan a long way from having a viable opposition, analyst says

Two senior officials in the Democratic Party of Japan are seeking to disband the nation’s main political opposition group and join with the smaller Japan Innovation Party, in an attempt to unite forces against the dominance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition, Kyodo News reported Thursday.

Shadow finance minister Seiji Maehara and policy chief Goshi Hosono -- both on the conservative side of the DPJ -- plan to ask leader Katsuya Okada to dissolve the party, Kyodo said, citing unidentified people. They both met with Kenji Eda, the former leader of the Japan Innovation Party, on Wednesday and agreed to form a new party, the news agency reported.

The potential split could signal the end for the Democrats, whose three years in power through 2012 broke Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party’s almost unbroken record of rule since 1955. The move could also further splinter opposition to Abe, who is on course to become the longest serving Japanese leader in more than four decades.

"Japan is long way from having a viable opposition party," said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University Japan campus. "Given that many Japanese don’t support the LDP it’s amazing that no political entrepreneur has found a way to provide voters with an alternative."

Hosono’s office declined to comment when asked about the Kyodo report.

The Japanese Communist Party is also in talks with the DPJ to form a "national coalition government" to repeal the legislation Abe pushed through parliament to bolster the role of Japan’s military. SEALDs, a student group that led huge rallies this summer against the security bills, have also called for opposition parties to form a united front against Abe ahead of upper house elections next summer.

Support for Abe rose in a series of polls this week, after he achieved his long-held goal of a summit with South Korean President Park Geun Hye to try to mend strained relations. His bounce back in support after the summer of protests bolsters the LDP’s chances of gaining more seats in next year’s election. He also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the same meeting in Seoul last week.

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