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Communist party fares poorly in election but sees link with CDP as silver lining

Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii is photographed in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Oct. 22, 2017. (Mainichi)

The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) struggled to win many seats in the general election on Oct. 22 but leader Kazuo Shii views its allegiance with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) -- which performed well in the poll -- as a silver lining.

Speaking at a press conference at JCP headquarters on the night of Oct. 22, Shii emphasized that, "The CDP made a strong showing -- and I'm delighted that as an alliance, the JCP and the CDP were able to gain a considerable number of seats." He added that, "I want to continue to develop our alliance going forward."

In 26 constituencies where there were no JCP or Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidates -- and which were each contested between a CDP or a Democratic Party (DP)-related, unaffiliated candidate versus a candidate on the ticket of the ruling coalition, or a Party of Hope or Nippon Ishin candidate -- the former won 13 of those seats and lost 13. From the JCP-CDP perspective, these results indicate the effectiveness of withdrawing JCP candidates from these constituencies -- as it enabled the CDP to secure seats that may have been taken by non-liberal parties instead.

Commenting on JCP seats in the election, Shii stated during the press conference, "Maintaining pre-election seat numbers is difficult. It's a real shame." Nevertheless, he was upbeat about his party's allegiance with the CDP, as both parties are opposed to amending the Constitution.

Shii added during an online program on Oct. 22 that: "Assuming that the CDP becomes the main opposition party in Japan, it will not be easy (for the ruling coalition) to amend the Constitution. A huge brake will be applied in that sense. I'm glad the JCP has teamed up with the CDP."

However, the leader of the CDP, Yukio Edano, has not been quite as enthusiastic as Shii about the link between the two parties. In a press conference held by Edano on the night of Oct. 22, the CDP leader acknowledged the JCP's contribution, saying, "The party played a huge role," but that was about it. Looking ahead, the relationship between the two parties will be watched closely.

Social Democratic Party leader Tadatomo Yoshida is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Oct. 22, 2017. (Mainichi)

The JCP is expected to hold onto the Okinawa No. 1 constituency seat.

Meanwhile, the SDP performed poorly in the poll, despite a projected win for its candidate in the Okinawa No. 2 constituency. At a press conference on the night of Oct. 22, SDP leader Tadatomo Yoshida said, "This election essentially questioned whether voters wanted to see the rule of the Abe administration extended or not. The situation is very tough."

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