National

READY TO GO IT ALONE

DPJ rethinks New Komeito alliance

The Democratic Party of Japan is reconsidering its plan to form an alliance with New Komeito to gain power, DPJ lawmakers said Thursday.

Forming a coalition with New Komeito — the Liberal Democratic Party’s ruling coalition partner — has been seen as the best way for the DPJ to overturn the LDP-led government. But many DPJ lawmakers now want the party to seek power through a majority of its own or alongside the Social Democratic Party, they said.

The lawmakers said they believe the party will have a better chance to win the next House of Representatives election, expected in about three years’ time, by going it alone against the ruling coalition.

But it is expected to take time to change the current situation, as capturing a majority in the Lower House, where far more seats are at stake in single-seat constituencies, is a daunting goal, the lawmakers said.

Public support has fallen for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Cabinet and the ruling coalition since they rammed through a package of contentious pension-reform bills in the last days of the Diet session that adjourned in mid-June.

The DPJ plans to keep up its attack on the ruling coalition over its pension reforms and Japan’s participation in the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq — issues on which it is closer to the LDP than to New Komeito, the lawmakers said.

The call for a change in strategy is also due to a better-than-expected response to the DPJ’s campaign for Sunday’s House of Councilors election, they said.

The DPJ’s preparations for the election were disrupted by a sudden change in leadership in May, when Naoto Kan was forced to quit after it was discovered that he was one of the many Diet members who had not made some of his pension payments.

After the Lower House election in November, the DPJ considered allying itself with New Komeito in voting for a prime minister. But the DPJ won fewer seats than expected, and the plan was abandoned.

Coronavirus banner