Suzuki sides with DPJ, sees dual polls in ’10

by Takahiro Fukada

SAPPORO — Muneo Suzuki, leader of Hokkaido’s New Party Daichi, said elections for both chambers of the Diet could be held simultaneously next year if the opposition camp secures a huge win in the Aug. 30 House of Representatives poll.

Suzuki, a former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, is seeking re-election to the Diet in the upcoming poll and his party is fielding three other candidates. He was convicted of bribery in 2004, lost his first appeal and has another one before the Supreme Court. If that fails, so would any chance of being in the Diet.

Suzuki left the LDP under a cloud in 2002 and lost his seat when the lower chamber was dissolved in 2003.

Suzuki said in a recent interview that the opposition forces, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, are sure to win a majority on Aug. 30 and political realignment is possible.

“To realize regime change, we will win a majority,” he said. “This is the minimum condition. . . . We (opposition forces) will certainly be able to win.”

Suzuki’s party is maintaining an alliance with the DPJ in the election campaign.

If a DPJ-led government takes office, Suzuki said policies will be implemented to take care of the people.

He also said Japan-Russia ties will enter a new phase as the two countries will move toward resolving a long-standing territorial dispute over Russian-held isles off Hokkaido that Soviet forces seized in the dying days of the war.

While opinion polls suggest the DPJ has a strong chance of winning the Aug. 30 poll, Suzuki noted the result may bring political repercussions, without elaborating.

“If (opposition parties) score a large win, a simultaneous election of the Upper and Lower houses may also be held next year,” he said. “Depending on how we win, political realignment is also possible.”

Those elected Aug. 30 get a four-year term, and usually only in times of political turmoil would a prime minister cut this short by dissolving the chamber for an election.