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DPJ, Ishin no To invite entries for new party name

by

Staff Writer

The Democratic Party of Japan and Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) took to the Internet on Friday seeking an answer to a first key issue facing them ahead of their merger: a new name.

The DPJ, the largest opposition party, and Ishin no To, the third-largest, are set to merge before the end of the month in a bid to regain voter support and build momentum before summer’s Upper House elections.

The parties are inviting suggestions for a name through the DPJ website or by fax from Friday through Sunday.

The parties may use some of the feedback as “a reference” in deciding the new party’s name, DPJ officials said.

The two parties are also mulling conducting an opinion poll asking voters what party name they would prefer, an attempt to end the conflict between DPJ and Ishin no To members over what the new party should be called.

Many DPJ members have insisted the word “Minshu” (Democratic) should be included to retain the identity of the party, whose predecessor was first created under the same name in 1996.

Ishin no To members, however, are against this, given how unpopular the DPJ remains after its 2009-2012 stint in power left voters feeling deeply disappointed.

“We should decide a party name in an objective, transparent manner. A handful of executives should not make a decision on their own,” an Ishin executive said on condition of anonymity. “Taking an opinion poll may be one idea.”

Ruling party lawmakers and high-ranking government officials were quick to respond.

They claimed the DPJ and Ishin were not hammering out any new major policy proposals through the planned merger, and just conjuring up a new party name would not drum up voter support.

“Whether ‘Minshu’ should be included is not a big issue for voters. Voters simply don’t like the DPJ itself, which hasn’t done anything despite their slogans,” a high-ranking government official told a group of reporters, on condition he not be named.

So far media polls have suggested a majority of voters don’t expect much from the DPJ-Ishin merger.

According to a joint survey by the Nikkei newspaper and TV Tokyo, 64 percent of 1,016 respondents said they did not expect much from the planned merger, while 25 percent said they did. The survey was held Feb. 26-28.