Democratic Party of Japan leader Katsuya Okada has picked Shiori Yamao as policy chief of the new Democratic Party ahead of its formal inauguration on Sunday, informed sources said.
Okada has also decided to have DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano serve in the same post following its merger with Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party), the sources said.
Yamao, 41, elected twice to the House of Representatives, has been making her presence felt by grilling Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration over the issue of the number of children on nursery school waiting lists.
Her appointment as policy chief sets up the nursery issue as a key campaign plank for the new opposition force in this summer’s Upper House election.
By appointing a woman to the key post, observers say Okada is also aiming to create a favorable impression of the new party.
Meanwhile, Edano, 51, was viewed as best placed to continue his role overseeing election campaign strategy, the sources said.
Okada is set to become the new party’s leader, and the DPJ plans to allot one of the posts of deputy leader to the Ishin no To side.
Ishin no To leader Yorihisa Matsuno is seen as the most likely candidate for the new party’s deputy leader, but he has been refusing to accept the offer as he abandoned the DPJ in the past in order to join Ishin no To.
Discussions are still continuing within Ishin no To about whether the party should instead recommend Matsuno or Kenji Eda, former leader of Ishin no To, for the deputy post.
Okada also decided to name Jun Azumi, 54, the DPJ’s deputy chief for parliamentary affairs, as the new party’s parliamentary affairs chief, and Renho, 48, deputy leader of the DPJ, as one of the new party’s acting chiefs.
Ishin has been asking the DPJ to allot key posts within the new party to the Ishin no To side in accordance with the five-to-one power balance between the two parties. Under this arrangement, Okada is considering giving a top party post to Ishin no To Secretary-General Masato Imai.