National / Politics

Japan's opposition parties join forces in bid to counterbalance ruling bloc in Diet

Kyodo

Japan’s two major opposition parties agreed on Thursday to join forces in both houses of the Diet in their latest bid to counterbalance the ruling bloc in an upcoming extraordinary Diet session.

The agreement to integrate parliamentary groups was reached at a meeting between Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano and Yuichiro Tamaki, who heads the Democratic Party for the People.

Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who heads a group in the Lower House to rebuild the country’s social security system, also decided to join the bid.

It is customary for each party to have a parliamentary group in each house of the Diet. Lawmakers from different parties can join the same parliamentary group.

The merger of the multiple parliamentary groups comes as the opposition bloc seeks to balance the power of the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito, which control both Diet chambers.

In the extraordinary Diet session, expected to convene on Oct. 4, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to step up calls on the opposition to engage in debate on constitutional reform. Abe hopes to amend the pacifist Constitution, but debate on the matter has yet to progress.

Securing support from opposition parties is vital given that the LDP, along with other pro-amendment forces, is short of the two-thirds majority in the Upper House needed to initiate any revision process. However, they do have such a majority in the Lower House.