Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Takashi Arimoto

【#941】We Do Not Need Criticism-only Oppositions

Takashi Arimoto / 2022.07.13 (Wed)

July 11, 2022

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party won a clear victory in Japan’s triennial House of Councilors election on July 10, putting the raison d’etre of opposition parties into question. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition group, fell far short of maintaining its 23 Upper House seats up for election due apparently to its failure to come with realistic national security policies.

Difference from German SPD

“The CDP failed to become a force that Japanese voters can allow to take government from the LDP even when they had discontent with the current LDP government,” said CDP leader Kenta Izumi at a press conference. But the election results had been well expected even before the balloting. The LDP might have gained additional support due to the shocking assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just two days before the election day. Even without the incident, however, the CDP might have failed to increase its seats in the Upper House.

In response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the German left-of-center coalition led by the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party turned around its defense policy to double the country’s defense spending and to export lethal weapons to Ukraine. In contrast, Japan’s CDP has emphasized “life security” instead of national security and retained its policy of “seeking to eliminate unconstitutional parts” from the peace and security legislation that endorses Japan’s partial exercise of collective defense rights, while pledging to “steadily develop” defense capabilities on the premise of role-sharing under the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The CDP thus maintained its opposition to the peace and security legislation that has deepened the Japan-U.S. alliance, without specifying what the unconstitutional parts are. This will not let the CDP form government.

The Japan Innovation Party replaced the CDP as the largest seat gainer for proportionate representation among opposition parties, winning more seats than its six seats up for the election. The party has called for constitutional amendments. As a result of the latest election, the number of constitutional amendment supporters in the Upper House topped the two-thirds majority required to propose constitutional amendments for a national referendum. “The LDP has gained great popular support by promising to take over the wish of former Prime Minister Abe,” Japan Innovation Party leader Ichiro Matsui told a news conference. “We want the LDP to keep the promise and discuss specifics.”

Matsui also said his party won greater strength and would implement reforms suitable for the current Reiwa Era. There should not be differences between the ruling and opposition parties over how to respond to national security danger facing Japan. I want the Japan Innovation Party to proactively participate and cooperate with others in debate towards constitutional amendments.

Changes in trade unions’ stance

In campaigns for the latest election, the Federation of All Toyota Workers’ Unions, one of Japan’s largest trade union organizations, accelerated supra-partisan cooperation without limiting partner political parties to opposition parties, changing trade unions’ traditional position as supporters of the oppositions.

The time is over for opposition parties to demonstrate their presence only by criticizing the government. Opposition parties in Japan are required to develop their capabilities to respond to “clear and present danger” in terms of national security and energy security, instead of waiting for votes from people critical of the governing parties.

Takashi Arimoto is a Planning Committee member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and publisher of Monthly Magazine SEIRON at the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.