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Opposition Party Unity Scheme Collapses

SNA (Tokyo) — The agreement to unify the opposition Party of Hope and the Democratic Party into a single parliamentary caucus collapsed ignominiously after only two days. This plan would have seen the two parties retain their independent party structures, but obliged them to vote the same way on most issues that came before the Diet.

Neither party leadership had the clout to get all of their lawmakers to support them, but it was the Democratic Party that fell apart first, only because their general meeting was scheduled earlier in the day on January 17. The rebellion within the Democratic Party was apparently spearheaded by party elders Katsuya Okada and Yoshihiko Noda, who argued that there was no point forming a unified caucus without the participation of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, which possesses far more public support. They also made clear that they hadn’t forgotten how they had been brutally excluded from the planned merger with the Party of Hope ahead of the October 2017 general elections.

After it became clear that the Democratic Party general meeting had failed to endorse the unified parliamentary caucus that had been agreed by their party leaders, the executives of the Party of Hope quickly disowned the project themselves, declaring that even the negotiations were now cut off.

With public support of each of these hapless parties hovering in the 1% range, the deep trouble they were already in has now become deeper.

Reports suggest that some kind of unravelling may strike the Party of Hope as early as this month. The party may be split into two organizations, with a handful of conservatives who insist on constitutional revision and support for the Abe government’s security policies allowed to go their own way, while a larger group of mainly former-Democratic Party centrists sticking with the Party of Hope (or whatever name they decide upon).

At any rate, there is still an impressive number of conservative and centrist lawmakers floating around the Diet with no discernable strategy and rock bottom public support.

For the time being it is only the progressive Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (and to a lesser extent the leftwing Japan Communist Party) that is showing real signs of life and potential for electoral success.

Katsuya Okada wants the Democratic Party to tie up in some way with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, but it remains to be seen if Yukio Edano’s crew has any interest in such an alliance.

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