Japan's opposition Democratic Party chooses new leader

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-31 15:53:38|Editor: liuxin
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TOKYO, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Japan's opposition Democratic Party on Tuesday picked upper house lawmaker Kohei Otsuka to serve as the party's new president, taking over from Seiji Maehara, who stepped down to account for his party's lackluster showing in the recent general election.

Party lawmakers from both chambers of the Diet met Tuesday to choose Otsuka, 58, who ran unopposed, as no other candidates entered the leadership race.

Otsuka, a former Bank of Japan official prior to winning his seat for the first time in 2001, has served three terms in the upper chamber and previously held the senior vice welfare minister portfolio.

The Aichi Prefecture native will now be charged with regrouping the fragmented party following a bungled merger with the Party of Hope before the lower house election.

The Democratic Party was effectively disbanded so that its lower house members could run in the election on Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's Party of Hope's ticket.

The Party of Hope, however, opted only to absorb conservative factions from the Democratic Party, leaving liberals to join the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) led by Yukio Edano.

Following the Party of Hope only securing 50 seats in the 465-seat lower house election, despite fielding 235 candidates nationwide, compared with the 54 seats won by the fledgling CDPJ, Maehara penned his letter of resignation.

On Monday, the Democratic Party convened a meeting of its lawmakers serving in the upper house and independents who won in the lower house election.

They decided to accept Maehara's decision to step down as the party's president and agreed to reconvene Tuesday to select a new leader.

Otsuka now faces the task of reestablishing the Democratic Party as an opposition voice ahead of Wednesday's special Diet session at which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be officially reelected as prime minister.