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Ichiro Ozawa, President

Statement :The opposition parties should unite and fight together to take control of the government

 Ichiro Ozawa

President, The People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends


The opposition parties should field their candidates on a joint list to realise a change of government

The best option would be for the opposition parties to unite as a single party to fight next year’s House of Councillor’s election. However, under current circumstances it would be difficult for the various parties to disband and join together in this way, and in fact I do not believe it is necessary for us to take this step. Still, the fact remains that the LDP/Komeito coalition government is incapable of safeguarding the future of Japan and the livelihoods of its citizens. Therefore, if those political parties who agree we need to change this situation can join forces and decide on joint candidates for elections then I am certain that we will be able to gain public support.

The basic principle I am proposing is that existing parties remain as they are, and that in order to create a joint electoral list we establish a new umbrella party that will register candidates for the election, similar to the “Olive Tree” alliance formula used in Italy. All candidates who shared a similar basic philosophy would then be able to participate in this party as individuals, regardless of their political party of origin. This will mean that candidates will in practice belong to two parties simultaneously, but this is not an issue legally. We should fight on a joint electoral list in order to create a non-LDP/Komeito government, without disbanding existing parties. That is the way to create a true opposition alliance which aims to bring about a change of government.

We do not need to come to an agreement on policy details to fight as an Olive Tree alliance. However, I believe that we can all agree on the point that the revisions made to national security legislation by the government are undesirable and should be abolished. Then we should also be able to reach agreement on another point, for example nuclear energy. I think it would be possible for opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan, to agree on a policy that would call for a halt to the restarts of nuclear power stations, and to abolish nuclear energy and shift to new clean renewable energy sources, whether that be 10 or 20 years’ from now.

Some criticize such an Olive Tree alliance as an unprincipled alliance formed purely to fight elections. However, in a democracy elections are the greatest opportunity for the populace to have their say, and so creating a vessel that will enable them to exercise this right is certainly not unprincipled.


The majority of Japanese citizens are already calling for a non-LDP/Komeito government 

If we fight the election with a joint candidate list in this fashion then there will be no need for the DPJ to dissolve, and so the disbanding of the DPJ will not be an issue. A variety of opinions exist within the DPJ, so it may be difficult in practice for the party to reach a speedy conclusion about participating in the Olive Tree alliance. However, as the largest opposition party the DPJ would be the focus of any opposition coalition. There is little time remaining, and I would therefore like to urge the DPJ to concentrate seriously, as befits the largest party, upon achieving a change of power.

At the same time, if the other opposition parties and unaligned Diet members join together into one group, and are joined by the Japanese Communist Party, and we say to the DPJ “Hey, let’s work together!”, public opinion will also play its part, and the DPJ will not be able to refuse. We must work to create such a situation as soon as possible.

The DPJ merged with the Liberal Party in September 2003 and went on to fight a general election in November of the same year. As a result, the DPJ gained 22, 095, 636 proportional representation (PR) votes, more than the 20, 660, 185 gained by the LDP. Prior to that, in the 2001 House of Councillors election, the DPJ had gained 8,990,524 votes and the Liberal Party 4,227,149 votes, so their combined vote was still only 13,217,673. In other words, the merger between the two parties had caused the number of votes gained to increase by 8,877,963, which amounted to 1.672 times the total votes gained by both parties prior to the merger. I believe this was because the Japanese people accepted that the opposition parties had united and were now a worthy opponent to the LDP.

On the other hand, in the general election of December 2012 the LDP gained 17,658,916 PR votes, 3,001,269 votes less than the total it recorded in the November 2003 general election. Still, due to the fragmentation of the opposition parties, the LDP was able to gain 61% of the seats with 17% of the vote. In other words, there was a massive discrepancy between the popular will and the actual distribution of seats in the Diet. Consequently, I believe citizens calling for a non-LDP/Komeito coalition are already in the majority.


If the opposition parties unite to fight elections we will definitely be able to overthrow the LDP/Komeito coalition


In particular, the actions of the Abe government in ramming the security legislation through the Diet have caused the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) to make a significant change of direction, and to decide to cooperate with the other opposition parties in fighting elections. But this move should not stop us from forming an Olive Tree alliance. I don’t believe that the JCP itself has that intention. We agree with the JCP that the current Abe administration is undesirable, and that having a LDP/Komeito administration is also undesirable. Therefore, to summarise, the opposition ranged against the LDP and Komeito should consist of the Olive Tree alliance plus the JCP.

The Olive Tree alliance and the JCP will naturally engage in discussions over fielding candidates for next year’s House of Councillors election. As a result, the single-seat constituencies will be a one-to-one battle between the opposition candidate and the LDP/Komeito candidate, and the opposition parties should be able to win all 32 single-seat constituencies. In the remaining 13 multi-seat constituencies we should be able to win at least 1 and in some cases 2 seats, for a total of more than 50 constituency seats. If we are then able to gain more than 30 PR seats, that would make a total of 82 seats or more, enabling the opposition parties to turn the tables and become the largest force  in the House of Councillors.

In such a case, the opposition parties would be able to select the President of the House of Councillors. If we can do this, we can put a stop to the outrageous violation of the Constitution perpetuated by the LDP and Komeito in the previous Diet session. The opposition parties need to demonstrate their determination to achieve such a scenario when fighting the House of Councillors election, and take power in the next general election. To this end, I believe that we must adopt an Olive Tree alliance-type structure to fight national elections. I would like the opposition parties to come to an agreement upon cooperating to fight the forthcoming House of Councillors and general election by the end of this year. I will do my utmost to ensure that this is achieved.

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