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Politics

Kenta Izumi elected leader of Japan's main opposition in runoff

Constitutional Democrats give task of reforming party to 47-year-old

Kenta Izumi is now tasked with reforming the party and leading it into next summer's House of Councillors election. (Photo by Koji Uema)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan elected its policy chief Kenta Izumi as its new leader in a party vote on Tuesday, tasking the 47-year-old with reforming the party and leading it into the next summer's House of Councillors election after it suffered a humiliating election loss in October.    

Izumi, who belonged to the Democratic Party for the People, another opposition party, before joining the CDPJ last year, won in a runoff against Seiji Osaka, 62, a former special adviser to the prime minister.    

"As a political party that works for the people, I would like to bring everyone's power together and start walking again," Izumi said after winning the party election.    

The first round of voting yielded no clear winner, with none of the four candidates securing a majority of the total 572 points allotted to votes by Diet members and rank-and-file members among others.    

The two candidates defeated in the first round were Junya Ogawa, 50, a former parliamentary vice minister for internal affairs and communications, and Chinami Nishimura, 54, a former senior vice minister of health, labor and welfare.    

Izumi said he intends to name the other candidates to executive posts of the party if they agree.    

CDPJ Diet members, totaling 140, and six candidates set to be endorsed by the party to run in the upper house election next summer cast ballots at an extraordinary party meeting in the afternoon, while local assembly and rank-and-file members voted online or by mail.    

The election was called and campaigning began Nov. 19 as Yukio Edano announced his resignation as CDPJ leader after the party failed to make expected inroads in the Oct. 31 House of Representatives election, instead losing 14 seats it held before the vote to fall to a 96-seat total.    

The poor result raised questions about Edano's leadership and strategy of working with other opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, in the lower house election to field single opposition candidates in hopes of better challenging candidates backed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling coalition.    

The LDP secured 261 seats in the last election, retaining a comfortable majority to effectively control all standing committees and steer the legislative process.    

Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner, went from 29 to 32 seats.    

All four CDPJ leadership candidates have suggested the alliance with other opposition forces should be maintained ahead of the upper house election next summer and it was not a mistake to align with the Japanese Communist Party despite a big difference in diplomatic stance, but also suggested changes should be made to how they cooperate.

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