The major opposition Democratic Party for the People has been following its own path in parliamentary affairs and other matters, hoping to boost its presence ahead of the next House of Representatives election.
The strategy, however, has driven an even deeper wedge between the DPP and other opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, casting a shadow over the CDP-led opposition bloc's hopes of working together in the election for the all-important lower chamber of the Diet among other issues.
"We pride ourselves in making new proposals ahead of other parties," DPP leader Yuichiro Tamaki told a news conference after the party's convention Friday, the first since it was formed last September through a revamp of the former DPP.
As part of measures related to COVID-19, the DPP had proposed that the government establish a ministerial post to tackle the increasingly serious issue of social isolation and loneliness, and create a program to pay benefits to businesses hit hard by the pandemic based on the size of their operations.
Members of the party believe that they have helped the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga shape such measures.
The DPP has also clarified its policy of supporting or rejecting bills that could trigger showdowns between the ruling and opposition camps on a case-by-case basis.
The party is expected to vote for bills, including one to revise the national referendum law related to constitutional amendments and another to regulate the use of land lots deemed important for national security, during the ongoing regular Diet session.
But the DPP will be on a collision course with the CDP and the Japanese Communist Party, which are against the bills or are cautious about them.
Discord between the opposition parties is also affecting their cooperation ahead of a by-election in the prefectural constituency in Nagano for a seat in the House of Councilors on April 25.
For the by-election, likely to be seen as a litmus test for opposition cooperation in the next Lower House election, the DPP has withdrawn its support for the CDP's candidate as it considers a policy agreement the candidate concluded with the JCP and others to be problematic.
"We will put up rival candidates against the DPP in the Lower House election unless the party reinstates its support for our candidate in the Nagano by-election," a CDP official warned.
Rikio Kozu, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, who has voiced hopes for the integration of the DPP and the CDP, attended the DPP convention on Friday online as a guest and said it was important for the opposition parties to fight as one against the ruling coalition.
Meanwhile, many within the DPP believe the party should further follow its own road in order to shore up its presence.
"We must do something," a senior DPP official said, adding, "We need to shift into a higher gear at some point."
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.