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Reconsolidation of the Democratic Party of Japan

Edano Laugh

DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano (SNA)

SNA (Tokyo) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rather bizarre decision to call an early general election at a juncture that is distinctly unfavorable to his personal interests has set analysts ablaze, wondering how many seats the LDP-Komeito coalition can lose before Abe’s gambit would be judged a political failure. The prime minister’s fate certainly deserves top billing in the headlines.

But there is also a subplot in this snap election which may be even more important in the longer run: There’s a very strong chance that the Democratic Party of Japan will reconsolidate itself as the only viable alternative to the LDP.

It isn’t, of course, that the DPJ has really impressed with its performance, but more a matter that all of the possible opposition challengers to the DPJ are falling by the wayside.

At the last general election in December 2012, the now-defunct Japan Restoration Party made a strong enough showing that it seemed possible that they could eventually replace the DPJ as the leading opposition force. Recall that the JRP won 54 House of Representatives seats to the DPJ’s 57 seats.

Now the JRP has split between its larger Toru Hashimoto wing and its smaller Shintaro Ishihara wing. Hashimoto’s Japan Innovation Party is the more viable of the two, but even it is polling under 1% national support in the latest opinion polls, far behind the DPJ’s 5% or 6%, and might be heading for a drubbing.

Your Party, which also did reasonably well in December 2012 with an 18-seat win, no longer exists as of today.

The other opposition parties have virtually no hope of major growth.

Next month’s election may see the DPJ make very big strides if they perform well, or perhaps only modest strides if the LDP out-campaigns them, but when the dust settles, the results are highly likely to show that among the opposition ranks, only the Democratic Party of Japan is left standing as a future alternative to the ruling LDP.

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