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Japan’s main opposition leader Edano vows to meet expectations that come with power

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga attends a news conference to announce his candidacy for the Liberal-Democratic Party leadership election, in Tokyo, on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Jan 31, 2021, Kyodo. Japan’s main opposition leader Yukio Edano said Sunday his party will make utmost efforts to be a viable alternative to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party in this year’s general election, despite its large deficit in the polls, The Mainichi reported.

“We resolve anew to unite and live up to the people’s expectations” toward a change of power, Edano, the head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said at the party’s convention.

Edano criticized Suga’s attempt to strike a balance between support for the economy and virus containment, as his government continues to struggle to get the novel coronavirus pandemic under control.

“The government’s inability triggered the current explosion of infections and the collapse of the medical system, and the current critical situation is nothing but a man-made disaster,” he said.

Edano said his party would focus more on bringing virus infections to “zero or near zero” before reinvigorating economic activities, as New Zealand and Taiwan did.

The annual gathering comes at a time when the Suga administration has seen its approval ratings trend lower due in part to widespread dissatisfaction with its handling of the virus pandemic.

The Cabinet’s polling results increase the risk factor as Suga considers whether to dissolve the powerful lower house of parliament and call an election before the current four-year term expires in October.

But despite the incumbent’s struggles, the top opposition party is failing to gain traction as shown in polling.

A Kyodo News opinion poll on Jan. 10 showed 7.8 percent of respondents said they support the CDPJ, up from 7.2 percent in a December survey. However, the LDP received a support rate of 41.2 percent in January, down slightly from 41.5 percent the previous month.

As of the start of the ordinary parliament session on Jan. 18, the CDPJ-led group had 113 members in the House of Representatives and 43 in the House of Councillors, including allied lawmakers, compared with a total of 453 seats held by or aligned with the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito in both Diet chambers.

At a press conference after the meeting, Edano said his party will seek to cooperate with other opposition parties in the election, though he declined to elaborate further.

The annual convention was held virtually, with only a limited number of senior party members gathering in a Tokyo hotel.

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