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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 28 - September 3  > Shii answers questions about a coalition government initiative
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2019 August 28 - September 3 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Shii answers questions about a coalition government initiative

August 28, 2019

The Japanese Communist Party on August 26 made a proposition to each opposition party with which the JCP cooperated in the July Upper House election to hold talks among party leaders aimed at starting negotiations toward the creation of a coalition government.

At the news conference, JCP Chair Shii Kazuo answered questions from the press corps regarding the party's coalition government initiative:

Q: What kind of reaction did you receive from each party?

Shii: For today, we just told them our proposal. Secretariat Head Koike conveyed it to the secretary general of each party. So, it did not involve any discussion, but they said they will pass on our proposal to their leader.

We'd like to move on to the next step as early as possible, but we won't rush it. It would be good to enter into concrete discussions when the timing is right for all of us.

The goal of our proposal is to have a vision in place for a new government consisting of opposition parties and to talk about it in order to achieve our vision.

When it comes to a vision for a coalition government of opposition parties, what is needed most is for us, the opposition parties, to reach a political agreement that we will work to form a government together. In other words, it is important to confirm our political willingness to work hand in hand with each other to establish a coalition government composed of opposition parties which campaigned together in the past several elections.

It is also necessary for us to reach an agreement on common policies. We already have the 13-point common agenda which the five opposition parties agreed upon with the Civil Alliance. Based on this agenda, we should hold candid and sincere discussions to work out an outline of agreed upon common policies, including internal and external affairs, which a coalition government will tackle.

It is very important for us to achieve consensus on what a coalition government will do. At the same time, how to deal with disagreements is another important thing for us to be prepared for.

For example, concerning issues such as the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the Self-Defense Forces, and the Emperor system, there are differences between the JCP and other opposition parties. However, we have no intention of bringing such political differences into a coalition government as we will make clear our position from an early stage.

Therefore, in respect to different opinions, it is necessary to reach consensus on how to cope with them as a responsible government. Our party has already stated our position, for example, on constitutional interpretation of the SDF question after forming a coalition government. As long as we say we won't bring political discord into a coalition government, we need a pre-agreement on potential points of discord.

Along with formulating common policies and making policies appealing to the general public, we also need to forge an agreement with good faith in order to prevent political differences from hampering the operations of a new government.

In parallel with such efforts, we should talk about electoral cooperation in the forthcoming general election. We'd like to discuss with opposition parties how best to develop a "serious and genuine collaborative relationship" in single-seat constituencies.

As I said, our party is ready to begin talks in regard to a coalition government of opposition parties. It will be essential in the talks to reach three agreements in principle. First is a political agreement to assume the reins of government together. Second is an agreement on policies that will be implemented by a new government. Third is an agreement on electoral cooperation. Only with these three agreements in place can the opposition alliance display its real power. By doing so, we'd like voters to know our seriousness and realize that our group of "opposition parties intend to replace the present regime in order to establish a new coalition government".

Today, we just called for other opposition parties to hold discussions on a coalition government, not discussions on the amalgamation of political parties. Political parties are different from each other in their policy positions. That’s why it is important to respect differences, embrace diversity, and join hands together based on common ground, which I term “unification with diversity”. Based on this stance, the JCP called for discussions on forming a coalition government.

Q: Regarding electoral cooperation in single-seat constituencies, do you have something concrete like a plan to hold negotiations on electoral cooperation and select joint candidates simultaneously?

Shii: How to arrange a meeting that will deal with the three agreements is also a focus of discussions. We don’t want to insist that these three should be discussed in the same order as we proposed.

Let me now explain the progress made so far. Four years ago, on September 19, 2015, the day when the national security legislation (i.e. war laws) was forcibly enacted, the JCP made a proposal calling for the creation of a ‘national coalition government to repeal the war (security) legislation’. At the time of making this call, we first thought that it is of utmost important to restore constitutionalism with the abolition of the unconstitutional security legislation and that in order to achieve this, the establishment of a (national coalition) government that will work toward this goal is necessary. Based on this viewpoint, we called on opposition parties to promote electoral cooperation to create such a government. In other words, we made the “national coalition government” proposal for the purpose of initiating discussions on opposition parties’ electoral cooperation.

We think that if political parties’ collaborative relations are built in national elections, it should aim to obtain a majority in the Diet. So, we believe that electoral cooperation should be carried out with the determination to form a coalition government. We issued our proposal four years ago from this position.

However, at that time, opposition parties were slow to reach a consensus on forming a coalition government. Under this circumstance, while the official kickoff of campaigning for the House of Councilors election was approaching, on February 19, 2016, five opposition party leaders held a meeting and reached an epoch-making agreement to repeal the security legislation, bring down the Abe government, and drive the Liberal Democratic and Komei block and its supplementary forces into a minority position in the Diet. In response to the conclusion of the agreement at the meeting, I said to other opposition party leaders, “Under this landmark agreement, the JCP will not demand discussions on a replacement for the Abe government as a precondition for electoral cooperation. At the same time, however, the party will continue appealing for the need to discuss this issue.”

This means that under a situation where there was no consensus regarding the new government, the JCP decided to set the matter aside. In accordance with this decision, we focused on opposition parties’ collaboration in our efforts in three national elections, which produced some achievements.

However, when thinking about developing opposition parties’ joint struggle to the next stage and about strengthening it drastically, a consensus on the formation of a new government is necessary. This is what we proposed this time. Based on the past 4-year experience of joint struggles, we really feel the necessity to build a forward-looking agreement on this issue. I think everyone who participated in the joint struggles are aware of this.

And, in terms of elections, we need to bear in mind a general election in which a change in government will become the major focus. In this respect, opposition parties will have to decide whether to only promote electoral tie-ups without offering any proposal for a new government. A lack of a policy regarding a coalition government formation will provide powerful ammunition for the LDP-led forces in the next national election. Considering this point, the JCP called on its opposition counterparts to get one step ahead.

Q: Will a framework for discussions on a coalition government of opposition parties be basically the same as that for discussions on joint opposition candidates in the next general election?

Shii: We hope so. Of course, we have no intention of waiting to hold talks on election cooperation until a deal on forming a new government is reached. At the same time, as I said before, in order to make joint struggles powerful, the JCP will seek to obtain agreements on a new government, policies in common, and electoral cooperation in an integrated manner.
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