Nippon Ishin proposes merger with Your Party, but Watanabe reluctant


Nippon Ishin No Kai (Japan Restoration Party) deputy leader Toru Hashimoto revealed he has approached Your Party about a possible merger ahead of next month’s general election.

Hashimoto, also mayor of Osaka, said on a TV talk show Friday that he has contacted Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe and proposed that their groups join forces for the Dec. 16 poll.

Speaking to reporters in Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture, however, Watanabe said a merger would be difficult.

Hashimoto is apparently looking to prevent candidates from Nippon Ishin and Your Party, a minor opposition group, from competing head to head in the Lower House election, as both parties are seeking to create a third force to rival the two major national forces — the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party.

At present, Nippon Ishin and Your Party candidates would directly face off in 18 of the 300 single-seat constituencies.

On the TV program, Hashimoto said he asked Watanabe to reach a decision about the proposed tieup before the official campaign period for the Dec. 16 Tokyo gubernatorial election kicks off this Thursday. He added he has also pitched the idea to Your Party Secretary General Kenji Eda.

Watanabe said his party would probably have a hard time agreeing on policies with Nippon Ishin no Kai.

Your Party cannot merge with a party that first set a goal of abandoning nuclear power and then backpedaled when Ishin no Kai absorbed former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s Taiyo no To (The Sunrise Party).

Hashimoto meanwhile denied Nippon Ishin plans to cooperate with Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People’s Life First), a party led by ex-DPJ chief Ichiro Ozawa.