Japan's SDP faces uncertain future after Upper House election

Japan's SDP faces uncertain future after Upper House election

Mizuho Fukushima, head of the Social Democratic Party, speaks at a rally in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on April 21 ahead of the Upper House election this summer. Mari Fujisaki The opposition Social Democratic Party is going to great lengths to gain supporters, but it might cease to exist as a political party after this summer's Upper House election.

SDP, once Japan's main opposition party, will now be satisfied with just one seat in the election. Even that is seen as a challenge.

The public offices election law requires political parties to have at least five lawmakers or win at least 2 percent of the votes cast in the most recent Lower or Upper House election.

The SDP won less than 2 percent of the votes cast in the Lower House election last fall.

The 2 percent figure is considered the make-or-break line for the party, with only two incumbent SDP lawmakers, a senior member said.

The upcoming Upper House election will be very difficult, said SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima, who is up for re-election, at a rally in Tokyo on April 21. If the SDP fails to win a seat, it will lose its status as a political party if it fails to get 1.2 million votes. I, too, can't remain in the Diet if it doesn't get the necessary votes to win a seat. The Japan Socialist Party, as it was previously called, is the largest opposition party. The SDP formed a temporary coalition under the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan.

The SDP's main supporters are aging, and the party also took a hit when some of its lawmakers and local organizations joined the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan in 2020.

It reduced the number of SDP members and associate members from about 13,000 to 8,000.

The SDP hopes to win 2.4 million votes, or 4 percent of the total, in the proportional representation part of the Upper House election.

That figure is believed to be enough to secure two seats for the party. It is still a high hurdle for the struggling SDP.

To achieve the 2 percent goal, the party is working with other political groups, such as the New Socialist Party of Japan and Greens Japan, which have local organizations across the country, to include their members in the SDP's proportional representation bloc roster.

In addition, the SDP intends to field people of the lost generation in their mid-30s to mid- 40s, women who lost their non-regular jobs, sexual minorities and others disadvantaged by social issues.

The party plans to have Fukushima provide consultations on social media in order to attract nontraditional supporters.

The measures are intended to bring in new supporters by narrowing down the targets.

One member of the other political groups was included in the party's roster for the election.

It currently has only one candidate to field in an electoral district to get votes for the party in the proportional representation segment.

The SDP also suffered a setback when a would-be candidate turned down its endorsement and went with Reiwa Shinsengumi, another minor opposition party.

During a convention held in March, some SDP members proposed a measure that the party should take to achieve its goal for the Upper House election.

They said that the party should allocate a candidate other than Fukushima for the special slot whose candidates are given priority in winning seats. If the party wins two seats, the leader won't be re-elected.

One senior party member sighed when he said that the election will be held in the summer, the season when Japan surrendered in 1945 to end World War II.

The member said he only wishes for a faint wind at this time of the year when peace, our flagship policy, is easily felt.