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Members of the new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan — formed through the merger of the old CDP and the Democratic Party for the People — hope that their party’s establishment marks the beginning of a new era of strong, united opposition to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

But CDP leader Yukio Edano has a tough task ahead of him as he seeks to balance a tangled web of interests and convince the public that his party is not just a reincarnation of the Democratic Party of Japan, which led an opposition government from 2009 until 2012 — by which point it was deeply unpopular.

As well as being blindsided by the sudden exit of former PM Shinzo Abe, and his replacement by Yoshihide Suga, the CDP has to deal with news that unionized labor — traditionally a key supporter of the CDP — has been flirting with the LDP. The decision by the Toyota workers’ federation could spell trouble for CDP candidates who rely on its backing, writes Eric Johnston in a Q&A on the issue.

Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui (right) and Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura apologize for losing the referendum at a news conference on Sunday. | KYODO
Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui (right) and Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura apologize for losing the referendum at a news conference on Sunday. | KYODO

In a far more parlous state is the Social Democratic Party. The small SDP, once a major political force, decided last month to allow its Diet and local assembly members to leave the party to join the CDP. The decision could push the SDP closer to the brink of collapse, with three of its four Diet members expected to depart.

The Ishin movement based in Osaka is also in serious trouble, writes Johnston. With city voters last month having said no for the second time in a merger referendum, Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) and its national party Nippon Ishin no Kai must find a new fundamental purpose or risk extinction.

The referendum result will have ramifications beyond Osaka Ishin and beyond Osaka, writes Johnston. For one, Komeito, the LDP’s national coalition partner, sided with Osaka Ishin on the defeated “yes” side, against the LDP. That didn’t go down well with the senior ruling party, nor with many Komeito members.

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