Japan’s newly formed largest opposition eyes upper house polls

Tokyo, March 27 (IANS) Japan’s largest opposition party since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration took office in late 2012 was established here on Sunday, eyeing confrontation with the Abe-led ruling bloc in the summer’s upper house elections.

The newly formed party Minshinto, or the Democratic Party, came through the merger of two major opposition parties of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Japan Innovation Party, with DPJ chief Katsuya Okada elected as the new party’s head, Xinhua reported.

Calling the formation of the new party as historic, Okada in his speech at the party’s inauguration said that freedom, coexistence and responsibility for the future is the philosophy with which they start the Minshinto.

Okada alleged that the Japanese public’s basic rights are threatened and the country’s pacifism is also endangered under the Abe administration.

He said the new party aims at stopping the current government’s “runaway” policy and finally to topple the Abe-led ruling camp.

The Democratic Party will hold a presidential poll in September. Okada said earlier that if the party made no progress in this summer’s upper house elections, he will not run in the leadership race.

The new party currently consists of 156 seats in Japan’s bicameral national Diet, with 96 in the all-powerful lower house and 60 in the upper house.

However, the ruling coalition secured over two-thirds seats in the lower house and a majority of the 242 seats in the upper house.

On Sunday, Kenji Eda, a former leader of the Japan Innovation Party, was elected as an acting leader of the Democratic Party.

Former DPJ secretary general Yukio Edano serves as the new party’s secretary general, while Shiori Yamao, a former DPJ member, was picked as the party’s policy chief.

The DPJ was ousted from the ruling position in December 2012 by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) during a general election for the lower house.

The LDP formed the current ruling camp with its small partner of the Komeito Party later.

The DPJ also lost its majority in the upper house in 2013 in the chamber’s elections.

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