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Politics

Japan opposition Democratic Party eyes merging with Liberals

Efforts accelerate to unite opposition ahead of likely October snap election

Democratic Party President Seiji Maehara, right, and Liberal Party President Ichiro Ozawa are pictured together on Sept. 8 in Tokyo.

TOKYO -- Japan's largest opposition Democratic Party is considering merging with the Liberal Party ahead of an expected snap election for the lower house of parliament in October.

On Sunday, Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara met in Tokyo with his Liberal Party counterpart, Ichiro Ozawa, long a heavyweight in Japanese politics. The two leaders agreed that the opposition must unite around the two parties to take on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, the Democratic Party's largest support group, backs the idea.

Maehara and Ozawa are expected to lead the reorganization of opposition parties, along with a new party to be established as early as Tuesday by close aides of Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, among others.

Maehara said on Sunday: "It is important to think about what sort of alternative choice we offer. We will work to make [the upcoming election] a one-on-one battle."

Rengo President Rikio Kozu told the Nikkei that "opposition parties that share the same philosophy and policy should unite as one to fight." He said he has communicated this view to Maehara. "We must fight one-on-one battles in single-seat constituencies," Kozu said.

(Nikkei)

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