Yukio Edano, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Tuesday that he will resign as the party’s leader following its poor showing in Sunday’s general election.
“My inadequacy is the reason this happened,” he said at a party meeting. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart to all of the party executives, to all of our supporters across the country and most of all to our colleagues who unfortunately were not elected.”
Edano said he will remain in the post until the end of the special parliamentary session set to convene Nov. 10 and that the leadership race will be held soon after.
The 57-year-old had criticized the COVID-19 response of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his predecessors, calling for a change in government from the ruling coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party.
But the CDP’s presence in the 465-seat House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, shrank from 110 to 96 despite expectations that it would see gains after unifying candidates with other opposition groups, including the Japanese Communist Party.
A number of high-profile CDP candidates lost in their single-member districts, including heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa in Iwate Prefecture and deputy leader Kiyomi Tsujimoto in Osaka Prefecture, who failed to even gain a seat under proportional representation.
“It is the CDP’s responsibility to take the next step toward becoming an alternative choice for government. In order to do that, I decided we need to work toward next year’s House of Councilors election and the next general election under a new leader,” Edano said.
Well known for his time as the government’s top spokesman during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Edano led a group of liberal lawmakers who moved from the now-defunct Democratic Party to form the CDP in October 2017.
CDP Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama has also voiced his intention to step down to take responsibility for the election result.
“I’m filled with regret that we weren’t able to welcome many of our colleagues back to parliament. My heart is set. We will announce a way forward for our party soon,” Fukuyama tweeted Monday.
Jun Azumi, CDP’s Diet affairs chief, said Tuesday all the current party executives will resign from their posts. “Of course, we will all step down,” he told reporters at the Diet.
Edano and Fukuyama visited leaders of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, on Monday to express the party’s gratitude for the support that the group provided during its campaigning. The umbrella body of labor unions across Japan is a major supporter of the CDP.
Rengo had been strongly opposed to cooperating with the JCP and said in a statement following the election that the CDP had “significant issues to resolve.”
Election results show the cooperation among opposition parties was a failure.
Five opposition parties fielded unified candidates in 213 of 289 single-seat constituencies, but they scored victories in only 59 constituencies, or about 28%.
A source close to Edano said, “There is no point in having tight races if we can’t win at the very end.”
A veteran CDP member said on the night of the election that the outcome “reflects low public support rates for our party,” adding that the party’s current leadership team should be replaced.
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