National / Politics

Tiny Japanese political party takes new name in bid to reverse its fortunes

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

A small opposition party established last year by conservative lawmakers, including former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, renamed itself Monday in an attempt to change its dismal fortunes ahead of this summer’s Upper House election.

Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) is now Nihon no Kokoro wo Taisetsu ni suru To (Party for Japanese Kokoro). Kokoro means heart, mind or spirit.

The party, with only four members in the Diet, decided to change its name after voters crushed it in last year’s Lower House election and in local races, said Masashi Nakano, its secretary-general.

The new name was proposed by party chief Kyoko Nakayama, a former member of the Cabinet Secretariat who advised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the abduction issue from 2006 to 2007.

Set up in August 2014, the conservative party’s main campaign goal was to draft a new Constitution, but it struggled for support.

In the Lower House election last December, the party won a mere two seats — compared with 19 before the election — causing supreme adviser Ishihara to end his political career.

The party currently has only four Diet members.

A monthly NHK survey earlier in December showed its support rate at zero for the second consecutive month.