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2013年12月11日 (水)

みんなの党分裂 「江田新党」は野党再編序章か

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 10, 2013
Eda’s split from Your Party may trigger political realignment
みんなの党分裂 「江田新党」は野党再編序章か(12月10日付・読売社説)

Four years and four months after its inception, Your Party has split. This event has the potential of leading to a realignment of opposition parties.

Former Secretary General Kenji Eda and 13 other members of the party have submitted letters of resignation to the party and announced plans to establish a new party before the end of the year. The 14 defectors—eight from the House of Representatives and six from the House of Councillors—account for 40 percent of the party’s 35 lawmakers. Mito Kakizawa, an independent in the lower house, will join the planned new party.

The primary reason for the split was a feud between party leader Yoshimi Watanabe and Eda over the party’s future course.

Watanabe has insisted on cooperating with other parties in one political bloc, while maintaining the independence of Your Party. Eda, on the other hand, does not hesitate to run the risk of dissolving the party to help realign opposition forces. Watanabe scorned Eda’s move as an “antiparty action.”

Watanabe removed Eda from the post of party secretary general in August and forced Eda’s close follower, Kakizawa, to leave the party later that month.

The situation was brought to a head over the party leadership’s handling of the government-proposed legislation on protecting specially designated state secrets.

Eda vehemently criticized Watanabe’s role in working out an agreement to amend the bill through talks with the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, as “wooing the LDP.”

Attention will be focused on whether Eda’s action will evolve into interparty tie-ups or a realignment of opposition parties involving the Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party).

After submitting his letter of resignation to the party Monday, Eda said at a news conference that political forces should work together to compete with the LDP. This probably means he wants his new party to act as the foundation for future realignment of opposition parties.

Fighting a behemoth

Given that the current political map is dominated by the LDP, leaving small and weak parties far in its wake, the unity of opposition parties is being put to the test. It is understandable that the opposition parties will try to rally their forces to increase their voice against the behemoth ruling party.

But the question remains whether they can agree on political ideals and policies. Ishin no Kai’s acting secretary general, Yorihisa Matsuno, plans to form a parliamentary group with Eda’s new party. This is a realistic option.

Ishin no Kai, which was founded before the lower house election in December last year, is not a monolithic party either, as policy differences have emerged between its Osaka-based members, led by party coleader Toru Hashimoto, and a group of lawmakers in Tokyo.

If a unified parliamentary group can be realized by Eda’s party and Ishin no Kai, it will surpass the DPJ in strength in the lower house to become the second political force after the LDP. As the biggest parliamentary group of the opposition camp, it will have the strongest voice among opposition groups in the Diet.

Your Party, under Watanabe’s leadership, is expected to increase its cooperation with the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Watanabe will reportedly offer advice to the Abe Cabinet in its reexamination of the constitutional interpretation of the right to collective self-defense.

DPJ President Banri Kaieda cannot sit back and calmly watch the split of Your Party without taking action. Quite a few DPJ members also lean toward a realignment of the opposition parties. Unless something is done to change the status quo, the DPJ’s leadership will see its power further wane.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 10, 2013)
(2013年12月10日01時45分  読売新聞)


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