Opposition parties air concern over LDP dominance after projected win

Japan's opposition parties expressed concern over the dominance of the ruling camp following its projected comfortable majority win in the House of Councillors election Sunday with the No. 1 opposition party set for its worst-ever upper house showing.

With Kyodo News exit polls and early returns indicating that the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party will win over 60 seats, the opposition camp is trying to strategize their next steps to create a united force against the LDP and its coalition partner the New Komeito party.

The Democratic Party of Japan, which was in power until last December when the LDP won the general election, looked likely to secure fewer than the 26 seats it won in the 2001 upper house election.

The expected loss of more than half of the 44 DPJ seats that were being contested is likely to call into question the party's leadership.

DPJ Secretary General Goshi Hosono said on a TV program that he was "responsible for the election" outcome and will discuss his political fate with DPJ President Banri Kaieda.

Kaieda, meanwhile, expressed a desire to stay on in his post and do more. He said on TV that his work is only "half done."

The DPJ has been attempting to maintain its standing as the country's largest opposition party since losing power in the general election last December. The DPJ had taken power in 2009.

The Japan Restoration Party, which at one point appeared to be a promising strong political force, also fared poorly.

Toru Hashimoto, the party's co-leader, acknowledged his party's showing at a news conference in Osaka City, saying, "From the standpoint of leader, this election outcome is nothing to be proud of."

He did not say whether he will step down from his post to take responsibility over the election outcome but said he will entrust his political fate to the party's executive board.

Hashimoto urged the opposition camp to join forces, saying, "It won't do the nation any good if opposition parties fail to unite by the next lower house election."

Mizuho Fukushima, who heads the smaller opposition Social Democratic Party, voiced concern that the LDP will "pursue (the use of) nuclear power and policies that would widen the income gap without any checks" now that the ruling camp's win will end the divided Diet, which is perceived as a leverage for the opposition camp to bargain with the ruling camp.

"We want to be in solidarity with the other opposition parties to stop (the LDP) from running out of control," Fukushima said.

Among the opposition parties, the Japanese Communist Party performed relatively well.

Akira Koike, chief policymaker of the JCP, told reporters the party garnered support because voters were worried the LDP would "run out of control" and had "hope" the JCP would be firm in dealing with the LDP's ways.

Many opposition lawmakers have been criticizing Abe's economic policies, dubbed "Abenomics," which are aimed at beating chronic deflation with massive fiscal stimulus and aggressive monetary easing, saying they are causing "strong side effects."