Reiwa Shinsengumi chief says fledgling party ready to cooperate with other opposition forces

The Japan Times

New political party Reiwa Shinsengumi is ready to cooperate with other parties under certain conditions for the House of Representatives election, leader Taro Yamamoto said in a recent interview. "We're willing to join forces with other opposition parties in the Lower House election if an agreement to bring the consumption tax back to 5 percent is reached," Yamamoto said. The consumption tax is scheduled to rise to 10 percent from the current 8 percent in October. Yamamoto recently unveiled a plan for his party to field as many as 100 candidates in the next election for the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of the Diet. This is a number to pursue if it decides to fight the election alone, he said.


Reiwa Shinsengumi makes splash in Japanese election debut, giving voice to people with disabilities

The Japan Times

A new anti-establishment group led by actor-turned-politician Taro Yamamoto made a surprisingly strong showing in the Upper House election Sunday, reflecting a sense of stagnation and growing public frustration with vested interests in the country. Reiwa Shinsengumi candidates Yasuhiko Funago, 61, who has Lou Gehrig's disease, and 54-year-old Eiko Kimura, who has cerebral palsy, won Diet seats by priority in the group's proportional representation list. In an unusual twist, Yamamoto, 44, won more votes than any other candidate in the proportional representation segment of the election but was unable to retain his seat in the House of Councilors because the group only won two seats. "Taro Yamamoto may have lost his parliamentary seat, but Reiwa Shinsengumi made a huge advance," a smiling Yamamoto said at a news conference early Monday, noting the grassroots group now qualifies as a political party eligible for subsidies as it won at least 2 percent of the votes cast nationwide. It is the first time since the current electoral system debuted in 2001 that a group unqualified as a party has won a Diet seat via proportional representation.


Taro Yamamoto blurs the popular line on climate change

The Japan Times

Climate change is not much of a social issue in Japan. Even in the wake of three recent weather-related disasters, there has been little discussion across the political spectrum that climate change contributed to them. In Europe and the United States, left-leaning groups demand action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which they say is the result of human activity, while right-leaning groups tend to dismiss human impact and even question whether climate change is real. In a discussion that appeared on the Aera Dot website on Oct. 23, associate professor Kohei Saito of Osaka City University said that one of the reasons Japan has not addressed climate change is that the average person has yet to be affected by it, even though weather-related disasters have increased in frequency and intensity. In developed nations, climate change exacerbates economic differences: The top layers of society spend money to shield themselves from its effects while the bottom layers are defenseless.


Japan's opposition parties struggle to stay on message over consumption tax

The Japan Times

Opposition parties are struggling to keep in lockstep over the consumption tax after the government raised its rate from 8 percent to 10 percent Tuesday. Major parties in the opposition camp are wary of smaller peers' calls for the rate to be lowered back to 5 percent, although they are largely unified in opposition to the rate of 10 percent. The consumption tax, introduced in April 1989 at the rate of 3 percent, was raised to 5 percent in April 1997 and then to 8 percent in April 2014. The tax rate hike to 10 percent was "outrageous," Yukio Edano, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said at a party meeting Tuesday. "I want to play the role of passing on the confusion on the ground to national politics," he added, referring to the public.


Main opposition party CDP makes big gains in Japan's Upper House election

The Japan Times

Opposition parties saw mixed results in Sunday's Upper House election, with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) making big gains while others struggled to attract support in a crowded field. The CDP, which ran on promises to postpone a planned consumption tax hike and raise the minimum wage to ¥1,300, won 17 of the 124 contested seats, gaining eight seats compared with its pre-election level to solidify its status as the leading opposition force in the Diet. "In less than two years since setting out, we've been able to gain so much support," said party leader Yukio Edano. Nippon Ishin no Kai, the Osaka-based group pushing to reorganize the country's 47 prefectures into greater administrative regions, won 10 of the contested seats, expanding its presence in the House of Councilors to 16 seats. In a sign of the party's growing appeal, former Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member Shun Otokita won a seat in the Tokyo electoral district -- the first to be secured by a Nippon Ishin candidate outside of the Kansai region.