The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and Your Party, a small opposition group, are considering merging ahead of the snap election that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to call soon, party officials said Friday.
The two parties have also sounded out the Japan Innovation Party, another small opposition group, about joining the amalgamation, they said.
On Tuesday Abe is expected to announce plans to soon dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election in December, according to senior Diet members of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He is also expected to announce he has decided to postpone, until April 2017, the second-stage increase in the consumption tax planned for next October.
The DPJ and Your Party are now coordinating their stances on the merger issue. The DPJ previously had called on the government to proceed to raise the sales tax next October to 10 percent as planned. But Friday it made a major policy shift to seek to freeze the tax at the current 8 percent.
The DPJ holds 114 seats and Your Party 20 seats in the 722-seat Diet.
It is possible that talk of merging with the DPJ could lead to a split in Your Party by intensifying conflicts between current party leader Keiichiro Asao and former leader Yoshimi Watanabe.
It is thought that more than five Your Party members will not join the new party created through a merger with the DPJ, and they will likely either follow Watanabe or explore the possibility of joining forces with the Party for Future Generations, another small opposition group.
DPJ leader Banri Kaieda and Asao held talks Friday on drafting a common platform and coordinating candidates to field for the upcoming election. After the meeting, however, Asao was noncommittal about whether the parties intend to merge, saying it is “just a rumor.”