Voting begins in SDP leadership election

JIJI

The Social Democratic Party kicked off voting Saturday to elect a successor to former President Mizuho Fukushima.

The candidates in the race are Taiga Ishikawa, a member of the Toshima Ward Assembly in Tokyo, and Upper House lawmaker Tadatomo Yoshida.

The tiny opposition party, which has about 17,410 members and only five seats in the Diet, was to wrap up the voting Sunday night. The ballots will be counted Monday and the winner announced in the afternoon.

Fukushima stepped down to take responsibility for the SDP’s poor showing in the Upper House election in July.

The race to replace her focused on how to rebuild the party.

Ishikawa, 39, said the party should make more use of its junior members, including those in local assemblies, while Yoshida, 57, stressed the need to strengthen the SDP’s ties with labor unions and citizens’ groups.

The election is the party’s first contested leadership vote since it changed its name from the Japan Socialist Party in 1996.