The ruling Democratic Party of Japan was quick to rule out a shakeup of DPJ executives over the defeat in the Upper House election, but Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and other members indicated Tuesday someone should be held responsible.
“The DPJ went into this election as a whole and I think (someone) needs to take responsibility for the defeat,” Kitazawa told reporters, indicating that otherwise it would be hard to feel a sense of crisis over the party’s setback.
Some DPJ lawmakers have said Secretary General Yukio Edano should step down, but Kitazawa refused to single out the individual ultimately in charge of the party’s election management. The defense minister, however, was quick to say Prime Minister Naoto Kan should remain in his post.
“We can’t keep changing prime ministers every season to take responsibility whenever” something happens, Kitazawa said.
The DPJ failed Sunday, even with coalition partner Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), to retain control of the Upper House. But it suffered a particularly crushing defeat in the single-seat districts. The Liberal Democratic Party won 21 seats while the DPJ could only capture eight.
Kitazawa, 72, said the loss stemmed in part from Edano’s overconfidence in the spike in the DPJ’s support rate when Kan replaced the unpopular Yukio Hatoyama in early June and tapped Edano to fill the post vacated by scandal-tainted party don Ichiro Ozawa.
The campaign strategy for single-seat districts determined who won or lost, Kitazawa said, “But the new secretary general saw the support rate recover and grew optimistic, and I think it was a big mistake that we failed to develop that strategy.”
Kitazawa himself fought a tough battle in Nagano Prefecture but managed to win a fourth term.
He was forced into the difficult situation of not only running against a strong rival from the LDP but also a second DPJ candidate in the two-seat district. This had been part of Ozawa’s strategy to field several candidates in multiseat districts.
“The fighting power that the DPJ possessed was scattered,” Kitazawa said. “If we had been organized, we could have poured all of our energies into single-seat districts instead of throwing support behind one candidate or the other in the two-seat districts or into closely contested districts. I think there is room for reflection.”
Worries over defeat
Wataru Aso, president of the National Governors Association, voiced concern Tuesday that the crushing defeat of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan in the Upper House election will make it difficult to implement key policies.
“Political confusion or drift is set to last a long time,” Aso, who is governor of Fukuoka, said at a news conference. “It has become difficult for the government to put into practice policies to solve key social problems.