National / Politics

Defectors from Your Party form new opposition force

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Former Your Party Secretary-General Kenji Eda launched his new party Wednesday with 14 fellow defectors hoping to build a viable counter to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

They christened the new party Yuinotoh with the tentative English name of Unity Party.

“The current opposition camp can’t stop the LDP, which is out of control, and the public thinks the opposition camp is useless,” Eda told a news conference after being elected president of the party. “We will change Japan by abolishing bureaucracy-led politics, fighting vested interests and breaking the centralization of power.”

Members also adopted party principles, similar to those of Your Party. One is to forge an alternative to the LDP by ironing out policy differences within the opposition camp. Another is to act as a medium to bring about political realignment, in which the party could be disbanded if it would help unite other opposition forces in pursuit of true reform.

“If we can’t bring about political realignment in the next election, I will resign as a Lower House lawmaker,” Eda said.

At its inaugural meeting, the party also elected three executives. Two of them are first-term lawmakers, underscoring the party’s lack of experienced politicians. Some party members were also handed multiple roles due to the lack of human resources.

The party will hold meetings with the Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party). Eda already launched a study group with lawmakers from these parties earlier this month.

It is unclear how much clout the new party will have in the Diet, as it may not be able to create a new Upper House parliamentary group, which is necessary for asking questions in Diet sessions.

It requires at least two lawmakers to form such a group, but Your Party demanded Wednesday that all of the defectors except Eda resign their Diet seats because they were elected via proportional representation on the Your Party ticket. Lawmakers elected in this way are widely considered as having won their seat thanks to their party’s popularity rather than their own.

If the renegade lawmakers are forced to give up their seats, Eda will find it difficult to meet the requirements for forming a parliamentary group.

The 14 members asked both Diet chambers Monday to allow them to leave Your Party’s parliamentary groups, but they were rebuffed because such a request must be submitted by the groups’ leaders.

Eda will be expelled from Your Party and can form a Lower House parliamentary group with Mito Kakizawa, who bolted the party in August. Its influence will be limited because the question time during Diet deliberations is allocated based on the size of the parliamentary groups.

Meanwhile, Your Party Chief Yoshimi Watanabe, who lost almost 40 percent of his members in the latest split, criticized Eda for forming the new party, saying it has tarnished Your Party’s public image.

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