January 14, 2018 9:01 pm JST

2 Japanese parties to form Diet alliance, become largest opposition force

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Two Japanese political parties have decided to form an alliance in the Diet, becoming the largest opposition force in both the lower and upper house, their senior officials said Sunday.

Secretary generals of the Party of Hope and the Democratic Party, Motohisa Furukawa and Teruhiko Mashiko, respectively, said the parties are set to solidify the formal agreement on Monday.

They said the parties reached a compromise on how to deal with the contentious security legislation, over which the two parties had remained apart.

Regarding the legislation that expands the Self-Defense Forces' role overseas, the Party of Hope was in favor of promoting it, calling the policy "realistic," while the Democratic Party has said some portions of the legislation are unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, a new party created ahead of the lower house elections last October, will remain the largest independent opposition party in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party is the largest opposition force in the House of Councillors.

The Party of Hope was established by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and some lawmakers just before the campaigning started for the October election.

In the lead-up to the poll, many Democratic Party lawmakers defected to Koike's party as momentum swung behind the new political organization, but the Tokyo governor was criticized for the way she selected candidates, an issue many believed hurt her party's performance at the polls.

In both chambers, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds the largest number of seats.

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