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JCP offers to cut Upper House candidates if opposition camp presents unified front

Kyodo

The Japanese Communist Party is willing to withdraw some of its candidates from this summer’s Upper House election as part of efforts with other opposition parties to field unified candidates in single-seat electoral districts to take on the ruling coalition.

JCP leader Kazuo Shii said Monday the party would withdraw “a considerable number of its candidates” from single-member electoral districts on condition that unified candidates promise to scrap the new security laws that the JCP and other opponents claim to be unconstitutional.

The laws enacted last September mark a change from Japan’s exclusively defense-orientated postwar security policy and greatly expand the role the Self-Defense Forces can play overseas.

The JCP has been planning to field candidates in 29 of the 32 districts up for grabs.

“If opposition parties were to form a united front (against the Abe administration), a considerable number of those (running in single-seat districts on the JCP ticket) would end up dropping their candidacy,” Shii said at a news conference after a JCP national meeting in Tokyo.

The JCP would instead support candidates from the Democratic Party of Japan or other opposition parties, Shii said.

“It’s not easy (for the JCP) to win in single-member electoral districts,” he said. “We want to aim for full-fledged election cooperation (with other opposition parties). Only by doing so (can we) beat the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito,” the LDP’s ruling coalition partner.

The plan was put forward in a meeting Tuesday of secretaries-general of five opposition parties in hopes of starting detailed talks on building a unified force against the Abe government.

At present, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP and Komeito control a majority in the Upper House and a two-thirds majority in the 475-seat Lower House.

Half of the 242 Upper House seats come up for election every three years. Of the 121 seats up for grabs this time, 73 will be filled by winners in single- and multiple-member districts, while the remaining 48 will be chosen under the nationwide party-list proportional representation system.

The five opposition parties will also reportedly consider cooperating in the next Lower House election.