Two minor parties led by local Japanese politicians—who have stirred controversy with hawkish views on matters ranging from relations with China to Japan’s wartime past—formally merged Saturday as campaigning for the Dec. 16 national election ground into gear. With the most recent opinion poll showing the ruling Democratic Party of Japan trailing the opposition Liberal Democratic Party but narrowing the gap, the former governor of Tokyo and the mayor of Osaka jointly presented what they said will be an alternative force in Japanese politics at a news conference. But while Shintaro Ishihara, the former governor of the capital, and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto both have local power bases and have garnered support in polls in recent months, a survey conducted Thursday and Friday by Japanese daily newspaper Asahi showed both minor parties still trailing the incumbent DPJ and opposition LDP by a long way. More than half of those polled, however, said they supported no particular political party.
The Sunrise Party, led by Mr. Ishihara, will merge with the Japan Restoration Party, led by Mr. Hashimoto, to fight the Dec. 16 election on a platform that calls for a smaller central government and a bigger role for local authorities. The new grouping will retain the name Japan Restoration Party.
Support for the ruling DPJ has ticked up since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda set the wheels in motion for the election, according to the latest Asahi poll.
The poll showed the DPJ garnered 13% public support, up from 12% in a survey conducted just a few days earlier. The ruling party still lags behind the LDP, led by Shinzo Abe, but the opposition party’s support dropped to 16% in the poll, down from 19% previously.
Campaign rhetoric is starting to heat up. On Friday, Mr. Noda criticized the LDP for extremist diplomatic policies and said calls by Mr. Abe for greater influence over the Bank of Japan “may be problematic.”
Full Article: Two Minor Parties Merge Ahead of Japan Election – WSJ.com.