Japan's main opposition party leader Renho announces resignation

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-27 17:22:49|Editor: Mengjie

Japan's Democratic Party leader Renho attends a press conference at the parliament in Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 2017. Renho announced her decision to step down as the leader of the largest opposition party Thursday. (Xinhua/Ma Ping)

TOKYO, July 27 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Renho announced her decision to step down as the leader of the largest opposition party Thursday.

Renho, 49, said she had been contemplating what actions could be taken for the public to regain trust in the main opposition party again.

"After thinking about what we can do to make the public think of us as a Democratic Party they can trust ... (I realized) I have to reflect," Renho told a news conference.

The DPJ's dismal results in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election earlier this month led to its secretary general Yoshihiko Noda announcing his resignation on Tuesday to take account for the party's poor showing.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) also took a historic clobbering from Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's newly-formed Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First party), who won the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election and possibly setting a new direction for national politics.

Despite a drastic fall in public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet, the Democratic Party has failed to capitalize.

"We need to do something to strengthen our power," Renho was quoted as telling a gathering of DPJ lawmakers Tuesday.

"I ask for your cooperation so we can turn our party into an organization capable of winning," she said.

The resignations of Noda and Renho are aimed at shaking up and realigning the main opposition party's leadership lineup and breathe new life into a party that has never really threatened the ruling LDP in terms of leadership.

On Tuesday Renho said she will stand in a House of Representatives constituency in Tokyo in the next election, so as to put herself in a position to be a viable alternative to Abe as prime minister, as he continues to grapple with dwindling public support amid a multitude of scandals connected to him, his cabinet members and LDP lawmakers.

If she were to successfully switch from her current position in the upper house and win the backing of her constituency in the lower house election, and provided the DPJ along with its future allies can commandeer enough seats from the ruling LDP-led camp, Renho could theoretically become prime minister, political watchers have noted.

Japan's lower house of parliament is the larger and more powerful of the two chambers, and Japanese prime minister must be member of the lower house, as per political custom.

On Tuesday, Renho said other important positions in her party may also be changed and that the party was gearing up to rebrand itself as viable alternative to the scandal-plagued LDP.

"We have to strengthen the party leadership somehow. The next House of Representatives election could be less than a year away."

The next election for the lower house is scheduled to take place in December 2018 at the latest, although Abe, as prime minister, has the right to dissolve parliament and call a snap election at will.

Renho backtracked slightly from her Tuesday's remarks, saying that she will "think again (about running for the premiership)."

Renho, who goes by her first name, attended Tokyo's Aoyama Gakuin from kindergarten through to university, where she studied law.

In 1993, she became a newscaster, working for TBS and TV Asahi, and was known for her coverage of the Great Hanshin earthquake, which struck in January 1995.

After a hiatus to China to study the language, she returned to the spotlight in 2000, as a TV anchor for a number of TBS shows.

In July 2004, Renho was elected to the House of Councillors representing Tokyo as a DPJ member.

Renho became the party's first female leader when she won a leadership election in September last year.