In an effort to come up with a new strategy to compete with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Japan on Wednesday established a policy study group.

“A clear DPJ message has not been delivered to the Japanese public,” said Takahiro Yokomichi, initiator of the study group. “With the next general election expected to be called at anytime in the near future, I would like to share and discuss my sense of crisis with other members of the party.”

Yokomichi, who is also chairman of the DPJ’s General Council, said the study group, “Minshu-plus-21,” will discuss policy on key issues such as unemployment, welfare and security policy over the next two months and try to compile a proposal for the party leadership.

“Minshu” is Japanese for democracy, and “Minshuto” is how the DPJ is referred to in Japanese.

At first, Yokomichi reportedly attempted to create a policy study group among former Social Democratic Party members within the DPJ to gain more influence over party leadership.

But the idea was severely criticized by the leadership as a move to create a new faction, and Yokomichi eventually decided to open its membership to all DPJ lawmakers.

More than 50 DPJ lawmakers and proxies attended the group’s first meeting. The participants included former SDP members as well as politicians like DPJ Deputy Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and DPJ Policy Affairs chief Kansei Nakano.

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