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Main Japan opposition parties CDP, DPFP agree on Diet caucus merger

Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama, right, and Hirofumi Hirano, his counterpart in the Democratic Party for the People, are seen during a meeting at the Diet building in this Dec. 19, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- The secretaries-general of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) and Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) have agreed that the two parties will merge their respective House of Representatives and House of Councillors' caucuses.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between CDP Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama and his DPFP counterpart Hirofumi Hirano at a Tokyo hotel on Dec. 27. The two parties aim to reach a final agreement on the proposed merger terms, including the name of the new party and appointment of top officials, at a meeting between their leaders after the New Year's holiday period.

However, twists and turns are expected in their negotiations because opposition persists within the DPFP to any merger that would see their party effectively absorbed by the CDP.

Talks on the proposed merger between the two parties' secretaries-general began on Dec. 19, and the Dec. 27 meetings were the seventh round. Following the meeting, Fukuyama told reporters, "We agreed on the necessity of aiming to become a single political party, and building a strong system that can take the reins of government. Hirano said, "We will aspire to become a large mass for a big cause."

At the meeting, Fukuyama and Hirano agreed that rules on party leadership elections, which the CDP currently does not have, will be drawn up after the merger, and that both CDP and DPFP members will be given fair inclusion on the roster of lower house election proportional representation candidate blocs.

The CDP has thus given a certain consideration to the concerns of the smaller DPFP, which is negotiating the proposed merger on the condition that they talk about the plan on equal footing.

Hirano said the two parties will leave crucial political decisions to the upcoming meeting between both parties' leaders. The main points in the leaders' meeting will be the name of the new party, appointments of top party officials, and the party platform.

CDP leader Yukio Edano is insisting that his party absorb the DPFP and has no intention of changing the party name or platform. He intends to set the deadline for a final agreement on the planned merger for early January, in time for next year's regular Diet session starting that month.

Many in the DPFP are opposed to the new party adopting the CDP name. However, since it is inevitable that the CDP, the largest opposition party, will take the initiative in the amalgamation, some within the DPFP, mainly lower house legislators, are proactively supporting the merger.

DPFP leader Yuichiro Tamaki has stated repeatedly, "It's important for both parties to have careful discussions without setting a deadline," but things may prove difficult for the smaller DPFP.

(Japanese original by Minami Nomaguchi and Shuhei Endo, Political News Department)

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