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Democratic Party leader abandons appointing young star Yamao as secretary-general

Shiori Yamao (Mainichi)
Atsushi Oshima (Mainichi)

Seiji Maehara, newly elected president of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP), has abandoned appointing the party's former policy chief Shiori Yamao as secretary-general, and decided to name former senior vice Cabinet minister Atsushi Oshima to the post, party sources said.

Yamao, former chair of the DP Policy Research Committee, will be appointed as deputy president. Maehara will seek approval of his appointments of party executives at a general meeting of its legislators later on Sept. 5.

Yamao, a former prosecutor, is serving her second term as a member of the House of Representatives. Maehara had intended to appoint the rising political star, who is a younger influential politician within the party, to the key post to renew the image of the struggling party. However, some intraparty groups that backed Maehara in the recent party presidential race voiced concerns over whether the relatively inexperienced politician can properly manage the party as it prepares for three lower house by-elections in October and the next lower chamber election. As a result, Maehara was forced to reconsider his plan.

Maehara then decided to appoint Oshima as party secretary-general. Oshima served as chief election strategist for Maehara in the party leadership race. The new party president exchanged views on party management with Yamao and Oshima at the Diet on Sept. 4.

Yamao is expected to serve as a symbol of the DP in elections as deputy president. Nevertheless, younger legislators within the party are still hoping that Yamao will be named as secretary-general. Therefore, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the general meeting of DP legislators will be thrown into confusion.

Oshima is serving his sixth term as a lower house member. He served as senior vice minister at the Cabinet Office and vice internal affairs minister in the previous administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the DP's predecessor. After the DPJ was swept out of power in December 2012, Oshima served as deputy head of the party's Policy Research Committee.

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