Japan's main opposition party appoints leadership focused on seizing power from Abe gov't

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-05 17:29:00|Editor: Yamei
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TOKYO, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Seiji Maehara, the new leader of Japan's main opposition Democratic Party, completed the appointment of his party's leadership on Tuesday with lower house lawmaker Atsushi Oshima tapped to be the party's secretary general.

Maehara said at a meeting of the party's lawmakers that he wanted to seize power from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government in the next lower house election and in lower house by-elections to be held next month.

"We don't know what will end up happening, but that's the world we live in, and I think that each and every one of you will rally your thoughts together to realize victory," Maehara was quoted as saying at the meeting.

On Sept. 1, Maehara was selected by the main opposition Democratic Party as its new leader, seeing off a challenge from his rival Yukio Edano, a political heavyweight who served as chief cabinet secretary when the DPJ was in power.

Edano was subsequently appointed by Maehara as the party's deputy leader and Takeshi Shina, who has been elected to the lower house four times, was picked to be the party's policy chief.

Yorihisa Matsuno was selected to head up the party's Diet affairs and Akira Nagatsuma, who held the welfare minister portfolio when the party was in power, will lead the party's election campaigns.

A flip-flop by Maehara on the planned appointment of Shiori Yamao as secretary general, caused the new leader to apologize however.

Yamao was thought to be a shoo-in for the position as, despite her relative inexperience in parliament, the two-time lower house lawmaker has made a name for herself for taking the Abe's administration to task on a number of issues.

Maehara backtracked on his decision after intraparty groups reportedly voiced their concerns over Yamao's ability to run the party as its future face in the next lower house election.

"I want to apologize for making you all worry about the appointments," Maehara said before announcing his lineup Tuesday.

On winning the party's top post, Maehara said in his acceptance speech that it was paramount for the Democratic Party to mount a serious challenge to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as the public, as things stand, see no other viable party.

"We must change this dangerous current political situation, in which the public can only choose the LDP, or pin their hopes on something whose form is still unknown," Maehara said.

Maehara, 55, led the main opposition party when it was known as the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The party was in power between 2009 and 2012.

The Democratic Party's presidential election was brought about after former leader Renho announced her resignation from the top post following a dismal performance by the party in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election in July.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's newly-launched Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First party) emerged a solid winner in the metropolitan assembly, which is known to be a barometer of the future direction of national politics.

At the time of the metropolitan assembly, Renho and the Democratic Party failed to capitalize on a series of scandals plaguing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at the time, including an influence-peddling scandal which implicated Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also leads the LDP.

The Democratic Party itself has been hit by a number of its members jumping ship due to their dissatisfaction with the party's lack of clout in parliament and overall tenuous leadership.

But Maehara talking the helm comes at a time when the opposition camp is realigning itself to better tackle the LDP in the next lower house election, with Maehara himself stating that unity would be key to the party's and the opposition camp's future success.