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The Democratic Party for the People (DPP) formally decided Wednesday to dissolve and enable its members to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), paving the way for the long-negotiated merger of Japan’s two largest opposition parties. For many, this merger will demonstrate a growing front against an Abe administration that is facing increased dissatisfaction among the public. Others, however, will understand that coalescing a viable opposition is not as simple as combining parties.

The situation with the DPP and CDP offers observers a window into understanding the obstacles that Japan’s opposition parties face, even when situations should otherwise seem politically advantageous to them. The fact remains that challenging the ruling Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito coalition is not just about winning public support, it is about overcoming the institutional and policy hurdles that exist within Japan’s political system.

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