Democratic Party for the People head Yuichiro Tamaki’s about-face to call for proactive constitutional reform discussions has shaken opposition lawmakers and even members of his own party.
The move by the major opposition leader, who proposed meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for discussion, has left the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan — the biggest opposition party — unsure of Tamaki’s intentions.
Meanwhile, members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party expressed hope that Tamaki’s cooperation could lead to progress in discussions on constitutional amendments in the Diet.
“I’m completely reborn now,” Tamaki said in a program broadcast online Thursday. “We’ll discuss constitutional reform.”
On Friday, Tamaki stressed that he opposes a revision of the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9, which has long been a priority for Abe.
“We’ll show our own thoughts on constitutional reform,” he told reporters. “Diet debates among party leaders will be the best occasion.”
The DPP lost a number of seats in last Sunday’s House of Councilors election.
Tamaki apparently aims to shore up his party’s presence by highlighting its difference from the CDP, which is cautious about the prospect of constitutional revision.
Tamaki is worried that his party may lose its unique appeal in the opposition camp, a source close to him said.
But he apparently didn’t tell other DPP members about what he planned to say on Thursday’s program.
“He is being dragged into the opponent’s area. There’ll be no victory,” Kazuhiro Haraguchi, the DPP’s Diet affairs chief, wrote on Twitter.
“I hope (news about Tamaki’s move) is a false report,” Keisuke Tsumura, party deputy head, also said on Twitter.
Tamaki is “running out of control,” a senior DPP lawmaker said. “If he doesn’t stop, we’ll remove Tamaki.”
On Friday, CDP leader Yukio Edano held talks with Tamaki and asked for cooperation during upcoming Diet sessions.
After the meeting, Edano told reporters that the DPP head did not mention constitutional reform at all. “If he had any specific idea, he would have explained it today,” Edano added.
“I don’t know what Tamaki is thinking,” a senior CDP lawmaker said.
Meanwhile, an LDP executive welcomed Tamaki’s stance, saying, “We’d be grateful if debates develop at the Diet commissions about the Constitution.”
“It is important that ideas are put forward (at the commissions) regardless of whether the proposers are on the ruling or opposition sides, before national debates start,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Friday.
For smooth discussions, however, the constitutional reform camp needs to secure cooperation from the biggest opposition party.
“The situation won’t change unless Edano gives his OK,” a senior LDP member said.