• Kyodo

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Japan’s four opposition parties, ranging from advocates of small government to the Communists, said Wednesday they have selected their first common candidate to challenge the ruling party incumbent in the House of Councilors election next summer.

Running nominally as an independent, lawyer Hiromi Abe, 49, will pit herself against Yoshifumi Matsumura, 51, of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Kumamoto prefectural constituency, where one seat will be up for grabs in the triennial contest, they said.

She is the first candidate jointly chosen by the main opposition coalition — made up of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Japan Innovation Party, which seeks a smaller government, and the Social Democratic Party — as they strategize to avoid cannibalizing each other’s vote in the coming national poll.

The joint effort is aimed at constituencies where candidates will fight for a single seat now held by a ruling party member of either Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s LDP or its coalition partner, Komeito.

Similar moves are afoot in other constituencies, including in Ishikawa Prefecture.

In Kumamoto, the JCP has withdrawn its candidate, announced in July, to be part of the joint attempt to defeat Matsumura, who has said he will seek his third six-year term.

Abe was picked for her efforts against the security legislation, pushed by the prime minister and passed in September. The laws, which cleared the Diet despite massive public protests nationwide, have made it possible for the Self-Defense Forces to come to the aid of allies under attack.

“The politics of today will make disadvantaged people suffer even more,” Hiromi Abe told a news conference in the city of Kumamoto. “The security legislation is about to put citizens to the sword.”

“We would like to elect Ms. Abe so we can force the government to withdraw its decision to let Japan exercise its right to collective defense, as well as abolish the security legislation,” said Satoru Kamata, Kumamoto prefectural chief of the DPJ.

LDP Secretary-general Sadakazu Tanigaki, however, voiced criticism of such moves by the opposition.

“They are united only in a sense that they are anti-LDP,” Tanigaki told reporters Tuesday.

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