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Japan's opposition parties criticize LDP leadership focus amid pandemic

Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Japan's opposition parties are criticizing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for launching a leadership contest while at the same time forgoing an extraordinary Diet session to debate coronavirus pandemic measures.

    "Diet lawmakers' work is at the Diet. I want them to do their actual work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then hold it (the leadership race) from 5 p.m. onward," Yukio Edano, head of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), told a group of reporters on Sept. 17, the same day that the LDP's presidential campaign began.

    Edano has been referring to the electoral contests to decide the heads of the CDP and LDP as "semifinals," with the coming House of Representatives election as the "final." "We will continue full preparations for the final," he said.

    Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Policy Commission Chair Tomoko Tamura was also critical, telling reporters, "The LDP's internal debate is being shown on TV, but shouldn't it be the live National Diet deliberations being broadcast? It's exasperating."

    Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, told the Mainichi Shimbun that "the LDP presidential election must include full review of the coronavirus countermeasures, which have been a step behind events again and again."

    Ichiro Matsui, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) leader and Osaka mayor, told reporters at the Osaka city government office, "If they change the party president, expectation levels will go up. It'll work favorably for the LDP, giving it a congratulatory boost" in this autumn's House of Representatives election.

    (Japanese original by Kenta Miyahara, Political News Department, Tadashi Sano, Digital News Center, and Hirokage Tabata, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)

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