politics

Okada elected leader of main opposition DPJ

19 Comments
By Linda Sieg

Japan's main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) elected former foreign minister Katsuya Okada as its leader on Sunday, turning to a familiar face to try to persuade voters it can again become a viable alternative to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party.

Okada, 61, won the election after beating former Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, 43, by 133 to 120 votes in a runoff. The third candidate, former health minister Akira Nagatsuma, 54, was eliminated in the first ballot.

Okada must try to repair the DPJ's battered image two years after Abe led his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to power pledging to revive the economy and strengthen defense policies.

"I want to make the DPJ a party that the people believe can take responsibility for a change in government, and fight fairly and firmly with Abe's LDP," Okada told a party convention after his election to the post he held a decade ago.

A mix of former LDP members, ex-socialists and centrists, the DPJ surged to power in 2009 on a promise to focus on consumers rather than big firms and other vested interests.

But the Democrats fell prey to policy flip-flops and internal strife, changing premiers three times in three years.

They were trounced in the 2012 election that returned Abe to office and made minimal gains in a snap election last December that saw the LDP-led coalition keep its two-thirds lower house majority, albeit with record-low voter turnout of 53.3%. Then-party leader Banri Kaeda lost his own seat.

All three candidates had stressed the need to address widening economic disparities and welcome social diversity. They also criticized Abe's efforts to recast Japan's wartime past with a less apologetic tone, a stance that causes friction with China and South Korea.

Okada offered a 300-day party reform plan and a plan to demand Abe's cabinet rescind its controversial decision to ease constitutional constraints on the military's role abroad, Kyodo news agency said.

Critics worry Japan is returning to a pattern of one-party dominance, but the Democrats have not so far been able to tap into voter longing for an alternative to the LDP.

"The problem is the party has no shared core beliefs, has made no accounting for its miserable performance in government, and is unclear about what its policy priorities would be if it could take power again," said Columbia University professor Gerry Curtis.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
Login to comment

'Critics worry Japan is returning to a pattern of one-party dominance'

Japan has seen a pattern of one-party dominance for pretty much all of its 'democratic' years following WW2. Best of luck to Okada in building a viable opposition but pardon me from not getting too excited.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

How can we expect anything from the DP as they just elected someone who comes from wealthy LDP stock. His elite family drips of big capital corporate Japan. He graduated from Tokyo university and did a stint in the highly influential and conservative Ministry of Trade and Industry. In fact, he entered politics as an LDPer. After that he changed party affiliation as often as a sportsman changes sweaty underwear. Finally, he was in top positions during the failed DP reign of Kan and Noda. If only there were real opposition in Japan, instead of all these elite boys.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"...an avid collector of frog knick knacks" (a la wikipedia). This is his other interest. Frog knick knacks.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Frankly speaking, it's difficult for me to expect him to change the DPJ... And three candidates were all familiar faces, it may be natural, but the faces reminded me of the (lost) days when the DPJ was the ruling party...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I just feel relieved that Hosono didn't win the election. Hosono, if elected, might try to merge DPJ with Hashimoto's party, which would probably make DPJ a more right-leaning party and would help or encourage Abe to revise the Peace Constitution.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Supplied photo too small Wanna see his face

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Right, two things I want to see in this new opposition leader:

1) Opposition - Abe is leading this place down a very dark path. We need genuine alternative ideas;

2) Leadership - get out in the public eye, galvanising the demonstrably disenchanted electorate.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Okada I like very much. Whether I vote DPJ depends on them putting together a coherent reform platform!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good.

For LDP. And Abe-kun. And his cronies.

Okada has less charisma and presence than most people currently in politics so the ignorant masses can now safely keep sticking their heads in the sand and keep voting for Abe & Co.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Not Okada. Can't somebody give him a job at the family firm and save the electorate? What is it with the DLP? Hatoyama=fop, Kan=fop, Okada ditto, Kaeda= fop +'dumb. The smartest of them is probably Edano= smart enough not to run. The future just got darker.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A mix of former LDP members, ex-socialists and centrists, the DPJ surged to power in 2009 on a promise to focus on consumers rather than big firms and other vested interests.

''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

If Okada's DPJ policy brings back consumer first policy to Diet meetings, LDP will restrain from ignoring consumers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just feel relieved that Hosono didn't win the election. Hosono, if elected, might try to merge DPJ with Hashimoto's party, which would probably make DPJ a more right-leaning party and would help or encourage Abe to revise the Peace Constitution.

If and a big IF here, if Hashimoto was not a part of the process, merging the two parties would make the opposition a potential force to be reckoned with. Keep in mind that the LDP first came together as a joint grouping of different parties that had different policy agendas. The two parties alone carry little weight as an opposition, together they stand a better chance of becoming a true opposition and "choice" for the electorate.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"I do not see a big problem with the Chinese government concerning the Senkaku islands"- Katsuya Okada 6 September 2012. As Foreign minster Okada san will rule the day he uttered that howler. DPJ needed a reformer, a break with the past. Abe san must be raising a glass of sake tonight.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okada did a stint at the Foreign Ministry - did not have one original idea or make a single decision on his own. Relied completely on briefs and guidance supplied by the career bureaucrats. A perfect politician from their perspective, someone who would never, ever rock the boat...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Okada is the most down-to-earth politician in Nagatacho. Despite what other posters have written, he has a firm grip on reality. Hes well traveled, and I do mean that hes been to Nasu a few times. Hes aware of Japans position in the world, and what it needs to do. It`s about time that someone in the DPJ provided some kind of opposition. Okada is one man who can provide it. Where there is Okada, there is hope.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Given his less than stellar performance the last time he had the job I wouldn't have said Okada had much of a chance of making much impact this time round either. Then again, against someone as mediocre, leaden and uninspiring as Shinzo Abe who knows.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Being so thoroughly defeated after their impotent performance while in power should have been enough evidence for the DPJ that "we're not the LDP" won't be enough to get them elected again. Putting someone from those failed administrations at the head of the party shows the party rank-and-file to be complete idiots. What they need is a young firebrand with no connection to the failures of the past.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“The problem is the party has no shared core beliefs ... and is unclear about what its policy priorities would be if it could take power again,”

That's right. What is the DPJ? With Okada as the leader, what you've really got is just another party that wants to govern instead of LDP, but there isn't much policy difference.

If Hosono wants to go and merge with Ishin no to, then go on my son. If all the reformist minded people just left the LDP, it could become a more coherent option for the voters, and the people who want to vote in favour of big reforms could vote for Ishin no to. That would be fantastic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tired of politicians that talk, talk, talk and no action.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites