National / Politics

CDP chief Yukio Edano balks at merging with other parties

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Yukio Edano, head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Tuesday that the largest opposition force will go its own way and distance itself from the “power struggles” rife in Nagatacho, the nation’s political epicenter.

Edano’s criticism of Diet numbers games has underlined his opposition to the idea of absorbing or merging with other parties, including those that have views similar to the CDP.

“I know there are lawmakers out there whose way of thinking is very similar to ours. But once we give the impression that we’re committing ourselves to a power struggle in Nagatacho, public confidence in us will soon evaporate,” Edano told rank-and-file CDP members gathered at the party’s first general meeting of those who won seats in Sunday’s election.

Edano’s comment appeared to be a repudiation of speculation that the CDP might merge with former and current members of the Democratic Party, of which Edano used to be a member, to boost its numbers and counter Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s powerful ruling bloc. In the Lower House election, the governing Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito coalition successfully maintained a two-thirds supermajority.

The DP effectively disbanded its Lower House caucus last month after its president Seiji Maehara struck an unprecedented deal with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike to let its members join her fledgling party, Kibo no To (Party of Hope), and run on its ticket in Sunday’s snap poll.

Many DP members shifted their allegiance to Kibo no To, but some joined Edano’s CDP in defiance of Koike’s conservative policies, while others chose to run as independents.

Among those floated as potential crossovers to the CDP are independents including heavyweights such as former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and former Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, as well as Upper House members of the DP.

But such a merger could make the CDP essentially no different from the old DP, taking the shine off its fresh image.

“How Upper House members of the DP and alike will behave is a matter concerning another party. We won’t get involved,” Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary-general of the CDP, told reporters after the meeting wrapped up.

“A numbers game in Nagatacho wouldn’t apply to us,” Fukuyama said.

The CDP grew its popularity during the campaign by characterizing itself as a grass-roots movement that symbolizes democracy, saying the party is “neither right nor left, but moving forward.”