The upcoming leadership election for the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is expected to be a four-way contest.
On Thursday, the day before candidacies are due to kick off the official campaign period, Junya Ogawa, 50, former parliamentary vice minister for internal affairs and communications, announced his candidacy for the election.
Three other party lawmakers have declared their intention to run in the Nov. 30 election. They are CDP policy chief Kenta Izumi, 47, Seiji Osaka, 62 — former special adviser to the prime minister — and Chinami Nishimura, 54 — a former state minister of health, labor and welfare.
At a news conference, Ogawa, 50, said, "I'll make the largest opposition party a bigger grand party that can take on the administration."
"I'm determined to make full efforts" toward the goal, he continued.
But Ogawa did not clarify whether he has secured the support of the 20 CDP members needed for him to run in the race. He only said he is "convinced" that the number of his supporters will not fail to reach 20.
Izumi, a former member of the Democratic Party for the People, declared his candidacy earlier than the other three. On Thursday, he exchanged views with CDP members backing him over the policies he plans to highlight in the election campaign.
Osaka, who belongs to the largest group in the party, also accelerated preparations for the election by greeting members of his large support base.
Nishimura, expected to be the only female candidate in the race, said that she has secured support from 20 CDP lawmakers, clearing the eligibility hurdle for running in the election. She decided to appoint former Prime Minister Naoto Kan as adviser to her election campaign headquarters and Tomoko Abe, a former member of the Social Democratic Party and a member of the House of Representatives, as head of the campaign headquarters.
Meanwhile, Ogawa, a member of the intraparty group to which Osaka belongs to, arranged to unify candidacies with party executive Hiroshi Ogushi, 56, who was seen as a potential candidate. Ogushi now plans to back Ogawa after deciding not to run in the race.
The CDP leadership election will be held after former leader Yukio Edano resigned this month after claiming responsibility for the party's poor performance in the Oct. 31 Lower House general election. In the election, the CDP saw the number of its seats in the powerful chamber reduced from 110 to 96.
Conservative voters who do not support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party refrained from casting ballots for candidates of the CDP, apparently put off by the party's alliance with the Japanese Communist Party for the election despite gaps in security and other basic policies.
The focal point of the CDP leadership race will be the party's rebuilding and its alliance with other opposition parties for the next summer's triennial election for the House of Councillors, Japan's upper chamber.
The CDP leadership election will be conducted on a large scale, with national lawmakers, local assembly members, rank-and-file party members and supporters having the right to vote.
A total of 572 points will be up for grabs. Among the eligible voters, 140 lawmakers will have two points each and six party members expected to be endorsed as candidates for the next Upper House poll will have one point each. Also, 143 points will be allocated to local assembly members, and the same number of points to rank-and-file members and supporters.
If none of the candidates garner a majority of votes, the top two vote-getters will face off in a runoff.
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