Diet heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa, leader of Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party), admitted Monday that the opposition camp failed to give voters an alternative to the ruling bloc in the Lower House election but stressed that change is still possible if they join hands.
“The public was not given alternative choices” to the Liberal Democratic Party, and the opposition forces were not fully prepared, allowing the LDP to score a landslide in Sunday’s election, the leader of the minor opposition party said at a news conference in Tokyo.
“I’m sure a change of government can happen anytime once an alternative force emerges in front of the public,” Ozawa said. “It’s entirely dependent on whether the opposition is united enough to create” a counterbalancing force.
In the election, the LDP won 290 seats and Komeito, the junior coalition partner, gained 35. This brought the ruling bloc’s combined strength to 325 seats in the 475-seat chamber, giving it a two-thirds supermajority that allows it to override the Upper House.
Ozawa’s tiny party, which had five seats before the election and fielded 20 candidates, emerged with just two: Ozawa in the Iwate No. 4 district and Denny Tamaki in the Okinawa No. 3 district. The party also has two members in the Upper House.
“We hoped to at least secure the same number of seats before the election, but the outcome fell short,” Ozawa acknowledged.
Ozawa, who has been elected 16 times to the Lower House, said his mission as a politician is to establish a force with the ability to hold the reins of government and replace the LDP.
“I’ll make all-out efforts toward that end during my new term, which was bestowed by the voters,” Ozawa said.
The veteran politician famously nicknamed “the Destroyer” has been pivotal in realigning Japanese politics. He rocked the titanic LDP by leaving the party in the early 1990s, and helped bring the Democratic Party of Japan to power in 2009 by unseating the LDP government.
In a turnaround, however, Ozawa bolted from the DPJ when it was in power in July 2012 to protest Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s backing of the two-stage consumption tax hike, and formed the now defunct Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People’s Life First), whose core members later established Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party).
The short-lived party merged that November with Nippon Mirai no To (Tomorrow Party of Japan), which was headed by then-Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada. The party, hastily formed in the days before the December 2012 Lower House campaign, was crushed in the election and eventually disbanded, leading Ozawa and his allies to form Seikatsu no To later that month.