October 18, 2017
TOKYO- While many of its rivals in the opposition camp are facing uphill battles, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has been maintaining strength in the ongoing official campaign period for Sunday's House of Representatives election, with media polls suggesting that it could boost its number of seats in the Lower House.
The party was recently formed by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and other defectors from the Democratic Party, which was once the largest opposition force.
Observers say the Japanese public looks to be responding favorably to Edano's decision to form the party after rejecting DP President Seiji Maehara's recommendation that the party's members join the Party of Hope, a new conservative national party set up by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, because of his unbending opposition to the national security laws enforced last year.
"People should play the leading role in democracy," Edano said in a street speech near Shinkoiwa Station in Tokyo's Katsushika Ward on Tuesday. "We want to restore true democracy."
"The crowd was bigger than at our kickoff rally," said a member of the campaign staff for a candidate of Edano's party, a former Lower House lawmaker who invited Edano to deliver the speech.
As a condition for joining the Party of Hope, many former Lower House lawmakers of the DP were asked to show their support for the national security laws and did this. Edano refused.
Campaign staff for the CDPJ believe that Edano's position of not siding with those who try to ride on the popularity of Koike has been appreciated.
The CDPJ has as many as some 180,000 Twitter followers, overwhelming the figures of other parties, including the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, whose followers total some 130,000.
Even former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose political stance is different from that of Edano, tweeted, "Edano, who held true to his words, seems to be a real man."
Still, the general view is that the momentum of the CDPJ will not be enough to challenge the LDP's dominance.
Some officials of other opposition parties are skeptical about the CDPJ's actual strength, saying that the party is only attracting votes from the Party of Hope, which has lost momentum, and that it is just taking away part of the Japanese Communist Party's support base. The JCP refrained from fielding candidates in some constituencies where CDPJ-linked candidates are running, to highlight cooperation in the opposition camp. Jiji Press
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