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Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) / Minshuto

Two of the largest opposition parties are set to merge in mid-September 2020, when a lawmaker from one of the two groups is named its head. Nearly 150 members of the Diet have registered to join the new political party, including more than 100 in the Lower House. This meant it will have nearly as many Lower House seats as its precursor, the Democratic Party of Japan, just before the party took power 11 years ago.

Constitutional Democratic Party leader Edano Yukio says he'll run for the leadership of the new party. He served as the top government spokesperson when the Democrat-run administration tackled the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. Edano established the Constitutional Democratic Party three years ago when the old Democratic Party split.

The second candidate is Izumi Kenta, the policy chief of the Democratic Party For the People. He says that division among opposition lawmakers has allowed the ruling block to maintain power for too long. The vote to choose the leader will take place on 10 September 2020, with the outcome to be announced that day.

Amid low public expectations, Japans newest and largest opposition party conducted its inauguration ceremony 27 March 2016, vowing to dethrone Prime Minister Shinzo Abes ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The formation of the Democratic Party, born from the merger of the Democratic Party of Japan and Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party), represented the culmination of opposition efforts to unite against the LDP-Komeito ruling coalition.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was created in 1998, when reform-minded politicians from a number of opposition parties came together with the aim of establishing a genuine opposition force capable of taking power from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, and former party Presidents Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan were among those instrumental in establishing the new party. Since then the DPJ grew in size at successive elections, and the party was further strengthened by a merger with the Liberal Party, led by Ichiro Ozawa, in 2003. By 2008 it was the largest opposition party in Japan, with a total of 112 seats in the House of Representatives and 109 in the House of Councillors.

In contrast to the LDP, which was dependent on the bureaucracy for policy-making, the DPJ was said to be a party dominated by young professionals, including bureaucrats, lawyers, doctors, aid workers, bankers, and journalists, who are able to draw on a wide variety of experience in formulating policy proposals. As a result, DPJ politicians have introduced a large number of independent members' bills. The party places a strong emphasis on the speedy implementation of across-the-board reform and the creation of a fairer and more inclusive social environment in Japan. The DPJ was instrumental in introducing the manifesto (party platform) to Japanese politics, marking the initiation of a policy debate.

The DPJ placed particular importance on shifting from a political system dominated by central-government bureaucrats to one in which politicians and local communities play a leading role, and on strengthening the safety net to reduce widening disparities. Specific policy proposals include providing a monthly child allowance of 26,000 per child until graduation from junior high school; moving from a system of tied subsidies to one of providing independent budgets to the regions; making the majority of the highway network toll-free; and introducing an individual household income support system to assist farmers.

Following a strong showing in the 2003 general election and the 2004 House of Councillors election the DPJ suffered a setback in the general election of September 2005. The party regrouped to win a large number of seats in the 2007 House of Councillors election, becoming the dominant force in the Upper House. Under the leadership of Yukio Hatoyama, it intended to strengthen its position as the party of true reform and bring about a change of government in the forthcoming general election, thereby enhancing the democratic process in Japan.

Since becoming party president, Hatoyama kept intra-party struggles hidden from public view. DPJ members were completely focused on winning 30 August 2009, and the immediate goal of political change has smoothed over any serious disagreements. One possible seed of trouble for a DPJ-led government was conflicting loyalties to Acting DPJ President Ozawa. Ozawa is a controversial figure because of his old-school political style and his failure to create a DPJ-LDP coalition. In addition, anti-Ozawa groups worry that Ozawa may try to expand his group after the Lower House election and try to wrest control of the regime. He did the same thing with the Hosokawa Cabinet in 1994, leading to the quick collapse of the only non-LDP government since the 1950s.

The DPJ won a landslide victory in the 2009 general election, bringing about the first change of government in Japan under a two-party system since WWII. On 30 August 2009 Japanese voters resoundingly rejected the party that had set the country's policy agendas for more than half a century. The rise of a center-left party promising to soothe the pain of globalization was seen as a major break with business as usual. The public blamed the LDP for Japan's economic hardship. People had seen the misery index soar out of control in 2009. Unemployment was up, foreclosures and bankruptcies were up, suicides were up -- and wages, bonuses, and job security are down. So there's nothing to like about this scenario. The DPJ argued that given where Japan is, Japan should strike a better balance between its time-honored alliance with the United States, and its growing importance of having a good relationship with China. By so saying, it is obvious that the Democrats leaned slightly toward China and distancing little from the United States. The DPJ appeared set to gain more 300 out of 480 lower house seats in play. That result was consistent with months of expectations that LDP Prime Minister Taro Aso and his party would be defeated.

By 2010 Japan had seen a series of prime ministers in the past three years - Mr. Kan was the fifth, and the third in just over a year. After the DPJ defeated the Liberal Democrat Party, which had dominated Japanese politics for six decades, Yukio Hatoyama, who was the first DPJ prime minister, resigned after less than a year in office, because he failed to carry out a campaign promise over the U.S. base on Okinawa.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the DPJ focused on such issues as recovery and reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake, revitalizing the national economy in the midst of the global economic crisis, and investing in Japans future by carrying out comprehensive reform of the social security and taxation systems

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Page last modified: 06-07-2021 16:52:17 ZULU