Japan’s largest opposition party to pick new leader

Members of the Constitutional Democratic Party are taking stock following a resounding defeat in October’s Lower House election. Four candidates have put themselves forward to lead Japan's largest opposition force.

Edano Yukio has stepped down from the top post in the party he founded. “The election results were very disappointing. I take full responsibility,” he told a November 2 news conference. “We need to rebuild the party as we head into next year’s Upper House election.”

Edano at November 2 news conference
Edano Yukio stepped down after his party’s general election defeat

The CDP lost 13 Lower House seats in the October poll, down from 109 to 96. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito retained a comfortable majority, taking a combined 293 seats. The bloc controls both Houses.

The CDP is re-evaluating its decision to team up with three smaller opposition parties going into the election. In particular, some members believe the inclusion of the Japanese Communist Party in the alliance alienated core support.

Four candidates

Four senior party members, each representing a different faction, are vying to lead the CDP. They are: Ohsaka Seiji, a former prime ministerial advisor; Ogawa Junya, the CDP Diet affairs committee deputy chairperson; Izumi Kenta, the party’s policy research council chairperson; and Nishimura Chinami, a former State Minister for Health, Labor and Welfare.

All four candidates say it’s important to retain the alliance with the Japanese Communist Party ahead of next year's Upper House election. But they say some policy reviews are necessary.

Four opposition leader candidates
From left to right: Ohsaka Seiji, Ogawa Junya, Izumi Kenta and Nishimura Chinami. The new CDP leader will be responsible for rebuilding the party.

The CDP is also facing pressure from Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), an Osaka-based party that was not part of the four-way compact. After tripling the number of seats it holds in the Lower House, it is now the second-largest opposition group and wields increasing influence.

CDP members will vote for their new leader on November 30.