National / Politics

Japan’s Democratic Party and Kibo no To launch merger talks

JIJI

The Democratic Party and Kibo no To (Party of Hope), both opposition parties, have agreed to launch a joint panel for talks on merging — possibly in early May. The idea of a merger was first raised by the DP.

The panel held its first meeting on Monday after DP leader Kohei Otsuka and Kibo no To chief Yuichiro Tamaki reached the deal earlier the same evening.

The parties are set to discuss the name, rules and basic policies of the proposed merged entity, aiming to conclude the discussions by the end of April.

“We’ll create as early as possible a political system to protect democracy and people’s lives, and enable a change of government,” Otsuka told reporters after his meeting with Tamaki.

Tamaki said the parties will work hard to create a party for voters who do not support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration.

The launch of the panel came less than seven months after Kibo no To was set up — ahead of the October 2017 Lower House election — accepting defectors from the DP. Other DP defectors at the time formed the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP).

Kibo no To has responded positively to the DP’s merger offer, while the CDP, which became the largest opposition group in the Lower House after the general election, has rejected such proposals.

At a party meeting earlier on Monday, Kibo no To’s leadership explained plans for merger talks, attracting support from many members hailing from the DP.

Some other Kibo no To members, including Upper House lawmaker Shigefumi Matsuzawa, are considering the launch of a new party.