Following Friday’s dissolution of the Lower House, opposition leaders began talking up their plans for a takeover of the Cabinet in the June 25 general election.
“The time for a decisive battle has finally come,” said Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition force. “If the (ruling coalition) considers gaining a comfortable majority of 254 (seats) a victory, we will fight to prevent them from attaining that target.”
Hatoyama said he wants the public to decide whether the current ruling bloc, consisting of the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and New Conservative Party, or a government centering around the DPJ would act more responsibly for Japan’s future.
Liberal Party chief Ichiro Ozawa, meanwhile, said voters will not only determine the future of his party but the path of Japan as it enters the 21st century.
He said he views the election as a test of whether the public thinks Japan should continue with the current bureaucracy and its way of putting off problems or pursue reform.
Takako Doi, head of the Social Democratic Party, criticized the Lower House dissolution as escapist — a means of avoiding the opposition’s no-confidence motion against Mori’s Cabinet. She pledged efforts to topple the ruling coalition with the support of citizens seeking the resignation of the government.
Tetsuzo Fuwa, presidium chairman of the Japanese Communist Party, said Mori’s recent comment that Japan is “a divine nation with the Emperor at its center” and his refusal to retract it show he is “not qualified” to govern. For allowing him to remain prime minister, the coalition is equally unqualified, he said.
Meanwhile, New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki criticized opposition plans to target their attack on Mori’s comment, which sparked an uproar and dragged down his support ratings.
“It has become clear that the prime minister is not trying to create a society centering around the Emperor, like it was before the war,” Kanzaki said. “As long as New Komeito is a member of the coalition, that could never happen.”
Hiromu Nonaka, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said he is seeking support from the public for the stability and continuity of Mori’s government.
“We are facing an unfavorable wind due to the ‘divine nation’ remark, but making an issue out of this kind of thing will not lead to economic recovery,” Nonaka said. “We want people to understand that a political party responds to the public through policies.”
Stability would allow the government to continue helping Japan recover from its recession and make July’s Group of Eight summit in Okinawa Prefecture a success, the former chief Cabinet secretary said.
More than 1,200 candidates are expected to vie for 480 seats — 300 in single-seat constituencies and 180 proportional representation seats — in the election. In February, the government enacted a bill to cut the number of seats by 20 from 500.