After weeks of intense debate, the Democratic Party of Japan and Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) are finally on the verge of sorting out the first daunting challenge of their scheduled merger later this month: what to name their new party?
After asking the public to send suggestions for a new name last week, the two parties have whittled about 20,000 responses down to the two most popular: “Rikken Minshu To” (tentatively translated as “Constitutional and Democratic Party”) and “Minshin To” (tentatively translated as “Progressive Democratic Party”), with the former endorsed by the DPJ and the latter by Ishin no To.
The parties will reportedly choose one to adopt Monday based on the result of an opinion poll to be conducted over the weekend.
The struggling DPJ, the biggest opposition party, formally agreed last month to merge with the smaller Ishin no To in a shake-up aimed at revamping its tattered reputation ahead of a crucial Upper House election in summer.
The integration is also intended to help the DPJ turn into a more viable alternative to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, although the new party will still fall significantly short of being large enough to dethrone the LDP.
The DPJ-backed choice, Rikken Minshu To, “reflects (the new party’s) determination to defend true freedom and democracy against” the Abe government, DPJ lawmaker Hirotaka Akamatsu told reporters Thursday night after the latest meeting of a task force charged with naming the new party.
“As many voters are increasingly dismayed at the direction Japan’s politics and society are taking under the Abe government, the DPJ and Ishin no To will work together with the public to create momentum to preserve constitutionalism,” Akamatsu said.
Kenji Eda of Ishin no To, meanwhile, touted Minshin To as more symbolic of the new party’s readiness to tackle innovation, with the kanji for shin denoting the idea of moving forward.
The two names, however, point to a lingering gap between the thinking of the DPJ and that of Ishin no To.
Many among the DPJ’s veteran ranks are said to be strongly attached to the word minshu (democratic), while Ishin no To is pushing for a more fundamental change, saying minshu will forever serve as a reminder of the DPJ’s unsuccessful time in power from 2009 and 2012.
Of the 20,000 suggestions sent by the public, “Minshu To,” the current Japanese name of the DPJ, proved to be the most popular at 1,456, followed by Rikken Minshu To at 725 and Minshin To at 352, albeit with a different kanji for “shin,” according to domestic media.