In a break from the usual rhetoric, Yukio Edano, leader of the largest opposition party in the Diet, is calling on smaller parties to join forces and form a larger joint parliamentary group within the Lower House to counter the overwhelming majority of the ruling bloc.
The move, announced Monday, is a departure from the usual dynamic that dominates relations between the opposition parties, with the two largest opposition parties often taking each other on and leaving the opposition fragmented.
It also comes on the heels of an election that left lawmakers in favor of constitutional revision just four seats shy of clinching the all-important two-thirds majority of the Upper House.
“This is the time to join hands in creating a political force strong enough to counter the current ruling bloc — which has constantly relied on the strength of having a majority rather than real dialogue” to push bills through the Diet, Edano said at a news conference.
Parliamentary groups do not need to have a unified political platform, and therefore can be formed regardless of party boundaries or political differences.
However, question times in the Diet and committee meetings are allocated according to the number of members in each parliamentary group.
Edano confirmed that the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, of which he is leader, has reached out to the second-largest, the Democratic Party for the People, as well as independent lawmakers to join the CDP’s joint bloc.
So far, the DPP has refrained from giving a clear answer on whether it will be joining the CDP’s parliamentary group.
“We are really grateful for the offer,” DPP leader Yuichiro Tamaki said Monday. “But we will have to discuss this internally within our party before coming to any conclusion as to whether we will merge our parliamentary groups or not.”
The CDP is asking for a reply by mid-August.
So far, attempts at cooperation between the two parties have been far from smooth sailing, as they struggle to bridge their differing political stances on fundamental issues such as constitutional revision, nuclear energy and allowing dual surnames.
Both Edano and Tamaki deflected questions on whether the unification of their joint parliamentary groups would eventually mean that the two parties would merge, saying that the question of whether to link up parliamentary groups was their foremost priority for now.