Nippon Ishin can’t field enough candidates for majority

JIJI, Kyodo

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) may fail to field more than 240 candidates in the upcoming 480-seat Lower House election, deputy chief Toru Hashimoto said Saturday.

The party still hopes to be able to field enough candidates to win a majority in the Dec. 16 poll, Hashimoto, who doubles as Osaka mayor, said on a TV program.

But he quickly added that “in reality, Nippon Ishin would have to count on candidates from Your Party.” Hashimoto’s party is currently holding discussions with the minor opposition group.

Hashimoto said Nippon Ishin will enter a total of more than 150 candidates in next month’s election, although final adjustments are still being made.

According to an updated list issued Saturday, Nippon Ishin has so far endorsed 142 official candidates, including for the Miyagi No. 1, Kanagawa No. 10 and Kyoto No. 4 electoral districts.

Nippon Ishin and Your Party already have an agreement in place that will see Hashimoto’s party support 61 candidates running on Your Party’s ticket. But the two sides have yet to conclude a deal to avoid their respective candidates facing off in single-seat constituencies.

Unless the two parties adjust their candidate lists, they will end up vying head-to-head for seats in at least 21 constituencies.

On Friday, Hashimoto urged Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe to integrate the two parties. But Watanabe appears reluctant to do so, citing policy differences.

Watanabe said Your Party can’t merge with any group that has abandoned the goal of eliminating nuclear power, as Nippon Ishin did in order to merge Nov. 18 with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s Taiyo no To (The Sunrise Party). Ishihara was appointed president of the new entity.

Still, Watanabe told reporters Saturday he has not yet abandoned hope of cooperating more closely with Nippon Ishin.