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Japanese Communist, Social Democratic parties to team up in lower house election

Akira Koike, head of the secretariat of the Japanese Communist Party, asks questions during a House of Councillors Budget Committee session in this file photo on March 24, 2017. (Mainichi)

The opposition Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) have agreed to field a single candidate in each of 18 single-seat constituencies in 10 prefectures in the Oct. 22 general election.

The two parties are also seeking to back a single candidate in each of two electoral districts in Tokyo. By avoiding an overlap of candidates, the parties hope to prevent votes being split up between the two parties and give each candidate a better chance of being elected.

The move came after the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP), which had been exploring the possibility of forming a united front with other opposition parties in the House of Representatives election, effectively chose to merge into newly formed Kibo no To led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.

The JCP reacted sharply to the DP's planned merger into Kibo no To, which Koike describes as a "tolerant, reform-minded conservative party." The JCP plans to field candidates to run against those standing for Koike's party.

Seiji Mataichi, secretary-general of the Social Democratic Party, is pictured in this file photo taken in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Feb. 15, 2017. (Mainichi)

The JCP-SDP agreement was reached during a meeting between Akira Koike, head of the JCP secretariat, and SDP Secretary-General Seiji Mataichi at the Diet building on Sept. 29.

"We'll join hands with the SDP in the election and do our best to win as many seats as possible," JCP secretariat head Koike said. Mataichi, meanwhile, commented, "We'll form a broad alliance among democratic and liberal forces protecting the Constitution, and try hard in the election. We can't allow two major conservative parties to secure a large number of seats."

Under the two-party agreement, the SDP will support JCP candidates in nine constituencies, including the Saitama No. 15 and Kanagawa No. 10 districts, while the JCP will back SDP candidates in nine other electoral districts including the Osaka No. 9 and Oita No. 2 districts. They have also agreed to back a single candidate in each of two Tokyo constituencies.

The JCP's secretariat head revealed that he phoned DP Secretary-General Atsushi Oshima on Sept. 28 and protested over the main opposition party's decision to merge into Kibo no To, saying, "The DP broke its promise with other opposition parties, and betrayed us."

In principle, the JCP is poised to field candidates in all single-seat constituencies where Kibo no To intends to field candidates.

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