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Edano's new party to field over 50 candidates in election

Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano shakes hands with people after a speech in Tokyo's Yurakucho district on Oct. 3, 2017. (Mainichi)

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, a splinter group of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP), is poised to field over 50 candidates in the upcoming House of Representatives election, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The new party, launched by DP Deputy President Yukio Edano just ahead of the Oct. 22 general election, filed a report of its founding to the internal affairs and communications minister by way of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Election Administration Commission on Oct. 3. The authority accepted the report the same day.

A Mainichi Shimbun survey has found that 25 former DP legislators -- including Edano, former health minister Akira Nagatsuma and 12 others who have just lost their lower house seats when it was dissolved on Sept. 28, as well as 11 other previous lower house members -- and 23 first-time candidates have already expressed their intention to run in the lower house race on the new party's ticket.

Furthermore, DP lawmakers who had aspired to be backed by The Party of Hope, a new national party led by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, but were rejected, are expected to join Edano's new party. Overall, more than 50 candidates are likely to run in the poll from the breakaway group.

According to its report submitted to the internal affairs minister, the new party listed Edano as the party leader, and six other former lower house legislators as founding members. Speaking to reporters, Nagatsuma said the party intends to field its candidates in all 11 proportional representation blocks across the country.

At a stump speech in Tokyo later on Oct. 3, Edano blasted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government over his favoritism scandals involving two school operators -- Osaka-based Moritomo Gakuen, which had ties with Prime Minister Abe's wife Akie, and Okayama-based Kake Educational Institution, headed by Abe's longtime confidant Kotaro Kake.

"Those issues are not mere scandals, but are about how taxpayers' money is used," Edano said in addressing the assembled audience.

Edano also denounced Japan's new security legislation that came into force in March 2016 after it was rammed through the Diet in 2015 amid nationwide protests, saying, "The Cabinet, which ought to be bound by the Constitution, has arbitrarily changed the government's interpretation of the supreme law, which had been built up over the years. The (security) legislation, which runs counter to the Constitution, must be changed without any further delay."

Edano's new party is seeking to join hands with the fellow opposition Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the upcoming election, possibly forming a united front with those parties to counter the ruling coalition, just as they did during last year's House of Councillors election. Specifically, the splinter party aims to have parties joining the united front to field a single uniform candidate in each of the single-seat constituencies across the country so their candidates would not compete against each other.

At a press conference, JCP leader Kazuo Shii stated, "We will pursue the maximum possible united front along with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the SDP and citizens." He announced that his party will drop its candidate from the Saitama No. 5 constituency where Edano is set to run.

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