Kokumin Shinto woos SDP

Ruling bloc defector's cooperation eyed for Lower House overrides


Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima confirmed Wednesday that Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s minor coalition partner, has approached the SDP in a bid to form a new parliamentary group.

Fukushima told reporters during her weekly news conference that Kokumin Shinto Secretary General Mikio Shimoji approached SDP Secretary General Yasumasa Shigeno on Monday regarding a possible alliance, but said the SDP has yet to reach a decision on what to do.

“Forming a joint Diet group would be a very important decision — we’d like to discuss the issue within our party,” she said.

If the SDP accepts Kokumin Shinto’s overture, it could mean, in certain cases, that the DPJ-led bloc may have the two-thirds majority it currently lacks in the Lower House to override any bills rejected in the less powerful Upper House.

The SDP bolted from the DPJ-led ruling coalition in May after Fukushima was sacked from the Cabinet over disagreements on the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa.

The DPJ-Kokumin Shinto bloc last its Upper House majority in last Sunday’s election.

For the SDP, forming a parliamentary group in the Lower House may allow it to cooperate with the ruling bloc in having bills other than those pertaining to Futenma clear the Diet.

Kokumin Shinto lost all of its seats in Sunday’s election, and dissolved a joint Diet group with the DPJ in the Upper House. But Kokumin Shinto is still a coalition partner of the DPJ and has a Cabinet presence in Shozaburo Jimi, the financial services minister.

Kokumin Shinto leader Shizuka Kamei told reporters Wednesday his party will continue to seek stronger ties with the SDP in both Diet chambers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku also expressed willingness Wednesday to cooperate with other parties in order to pass bills.

“We’re not only talking about the SDP here, but I believe it’s only natural that we take time to explain and ask for the support of parties we have worked together with in the past to enact individual bills, bills that we weren’t able to pass during the last Diet session,” he told reporters.