• Kyodo

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More than 140 lawmakers are expected to participate in an upcoming merger between the nation’s two largest opposition parties, senior members of the parties said Thursday.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People have been in talks to join together and mount a united front against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition.

The CDP, the nation’s largest opposition party, currently has 89 lawmakers — 56 in the House of Representatives and 33 in the House of Councilors. The DPP has 40 and 22, respectively, for a total of 62.

Around three dozen of the DPP lawmakers, including Secretary General Hirofumi Hirano and Diet Affairs Committee chairman Kazuhiro Haraguchi, are likely to participate in the merger, the executives said on condition of anonymity.

Many are undecided and plan to confer with their constituents over the Bon holiday. Depending on their decisions, the post-merger party, whose name is expected to be chosen by a vote, could boast more than 150 lawmakers.

That would still fall far short of the majority held by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner Komeito in both chambers. But the new party would bolster efforts to turn up the heat on Abe over a resurgence of coronavirus infections and lingering allegations of cronyism.

CDP leader Yukio Edano said he is aiming for the merger to take place in early September. “At the start of next month, we will take on a new, more powerful form and take a big step toward assuming power,” he told a party meeting Thursday.

Another 20 lawmakers belonging to two independent groups led by former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his then-deputy Katsuya Okada have also expressed their readiness to join.

The Social Democratic Party, which has four lawmakers in the Diet, is considering whether to take part in the merger, though even if it decides to do so, it will likely be a later addition.

Meanwhile, some members of the DPP will splinter off due to differing views with the CDP on policy issues including whether the consumption tax should be lowered, party leader Yuichiro Tamaki said earlier this week.

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