Democratic Party (Japan, 2016)

The Democratic Party (民進党, Minshintō), abbreviated as DP, was a political party in Japan. It was the largest opposition political party in Japan from 2016 until its marginalization in the House of Representatives in 2017.[4] The party was founded on 27 March 2016 from the merger of the Democratic Party of Japan and the Japan Innovation Party.[5] The majority of the party split on 28 September 2017, before the 2017 general election, with many its members contesting the election as candidates for the Party of Hope, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan or as party members without nomination.[6][7][8] On 7 May 2018 the DP merged with the Party of Hope to form the Democratic Party for the People.[9][10]

Democratic Party

Japanese nameMinshintō
LeaderKohei Otsuka
Founded27 March 2016 (2016-03-27)
Dissolved7 May 2018 (2018-05-07)
Merger of
Merged intoDemocratic Party for the People
Succeeded by
HeadquartersNagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
NewspaperMinshin Press
IdeologySocial liberalism[1]
Political positionCentre[2] to centre-left[3]
International affiliationNone
Colors     Blue



On 24 February 2016 the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Japan Innovation Party (JIP) announced that they were to merge at a special convention on 27 March to form a new opposition party in order to better compete with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in an Upper House election that was scheduled for later the same year.[11][12][13][14] On 4 March 2016, the DPJ and JIP asked the public for suggestions for a name for the merged party.[15] On 14 March 2016, the name of the new party was announced as Minshintō (Democratic Progressive Party), the most popular shortlisted name among polled voters and preferred by the JIP, beating Rikken Minshutō (Constitutional Democratic Party) that was preferred by the DPJ.[16] On 18 March 2016, the official English language title of the new party was announced as the Democratic Party.[17] On 22 March, the DPJ announced that 4 sitting Representatives from Vision of Reform would join the party at its launch.[18]

The new party was founded on 27 March 2016 with the leadership consisting of Katsuya Okada as party president, Yukio Edano as secretary-general and Shiori Yamao as policy chief.[19] The party platform committed to protecting the existing pacifist Japanese constitution, and stating opposition to the "Abenomics" policies of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.[20][21][22]

2016 House of Councillors election

The election on 10 July 2016 was the first major election contested by the new party. Following the merger, the party entered the election with 62 seats in the 242-seat House, with 45 of those 62 seats being contested. During the nomination period, the party signed an agreement with the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), Social Democratic Party and People's Life Party to field a jointly-endorsed candidate in each of the 32 districts in which only one seat is contested, uniting in an attempt to take control of the House from the ruling LDP–Komeito coalition.[23] Despite the agreement, Democratic Party leader Okada stated that forming a coalition government with the JCP would be "impossible" in the near future due to some of the "extreme leftist policies" promoted by the JCP.[24]

The party had a total of 55 official candidates contesting the election, the same number as the DPJ in the 2013 election and the third-most behind the LDP and Communist Party.[25] 33 candidates contested the single- and multi-member districts and 22 were in the party's list for the 48-seat national proportional representation block.[25] A further 15 independent candidates contesting single-seat districts were endorsed by the party. The party suffered a considerable defeat at the hands of the ruling coalition, losing 13 seats overall. Five of the 15 endorsed independents were also elected, including two that claimed seats formerly held by retiring Democratic Party members.[26] Following the loss, Okada announced he would not seek re-election as leader at the party's annual meeting in September.[27]

2017 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and Renhō's resignation

The 2017 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election caused the party to lose 13 seats in the Assembly, which left them with only 5 seats.[28] This prompted the both secretary-general, Yoshihiko Noda, on 25 July 2017,[29] and the president of the party, Renhō, on 27 July 2017, to resign.[30] This is regarded as showing how public trust for the DP has declined.[28]

2017 leadership election

The election for a new leader to replace Renhō took place on 1 September, and campaigning began on 21 August. The two candidates were Seiji Maehara, who announced his intention to run on 2 August,[31] and Yukio Edano, who declared his candidacy on 1 August.[32] The election was won by Maehara.[33][34]

2017 House of Representatives election and aftermath

On 28 September 2017, Maehara announced that the party had abandoned plans to contest the 2017 general election scheduled for 22 October.[35][36] The DP caucus in the House of Representatives disbanded, with the party's existing representatives set to contest the election as candidates for the Party of Hope recently formed by Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike or as independents.[37] On 2 October 2017, DP deputy president Yukio Edano announced the formation of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) for liberals and left-leaning members of the DP whom Koike had rejected for running as Party of Hope candidates.[38][39] On 23 October 2017, in the aftermath of the election, Maehara announced his resignation as party president, with the CDP having replaced the DP as the largest opposition party in the lower house, while the DP continues to exist in the House of Councillors.[40][41] On 31 October 2017, member of the House of Councillors Kohei Otsuka was chosen as the leader of the Democratic Party to succeed Maehara.[42]

Road to a new party

In January 2018, the DP and the Party of Hope agreed to form a joint parliamentary group in both houses of the Diet, with each party remaining organisationally separate, but being subject to a common whip.[43] However, several days later, the negotiations broke down.[44] On 9 April 2018, it was announced that exploratory talks to merge the DP and Party of Hope into a new opposition party were being held.[45]

On 24 April 2018, the leadership of the DP and the Party of Hope announced in a joint press conference that both parties had agreed to merge in May 2018 under the name National Democratic Party. Several factions in both parties did not plan to join the new party. The members of these factions are expected to form their own splinter parties or remain as independents.[46] The DP and Party of Hope merged to form the Democratic Party for the People on 7 May 2018.[47][48]


The policies of the DP differed little from the policies of its predecessor, the DPJ, with policies such as increasing diversity, contributing to world peace, preserving democracy, and promoting prosperity.[19] They are considered to be open-minded in terms of North Korea, with one member of the party saying that doing nothing would not be responsible.[49][50] The DP, like its Democratic Party predecessor, is opposed to nuclear power.[51] The DP wants to raise the minimum wage of Japan.[19]


The party's Japanese name Minshintō combines "min" from minshu ("democratic") and shin (, "advance, progress"), not shin (, "new") from ishin (innovation).[16] A literal translation of the name in English would be "Democratic Progressive Party", identical to the Taiwanese centre-left party which also shared the same Chinese characters. However, the party officially stated its English name as the Democratic Party.[52]

Presidents of the Democratic Party

No. Name Term of office Election results
Took office Left office
Preceding parties: Democratic Party (1998) & Innovation Party (centre)
1 Katsuya Okada 27 March 2016 1 October 2016 see former DPJ 2015 election
2 Renhō 1 October 2016 27 July 2017 see 2016 election
3 Seiji Maehara 1 September 2017 30 October 2017[53] see Sep 2017 election
4 Kōhei Ōtsuka 31 October 2017[54] 7 May 2018 see Oct 2017 election
Successor parties: Constitutional Democratic Party, Kibō no Tō, & Democratic Party for the People


The Democratic Party, like its predecessor Democratic Party of Japan, was composed of factions originating in the Liberal Democratic Party, Japan Socialist Party and the Democratic Socialist Party, augmented by the merger with the Japan Innovation Party. Significant factions existing within the party included:

  • The Eda-Matsuno Group or the ex-Japan Innovation Party group (旧維新の党グループ Kyū Ishin no tō gurūpo) led by Kenji Eda and Yorihisa Matsuno, composed of the mostly Tokyo-centred group of the Japan Innovation Party that merged to form the Democratic Party in 2016 (the Osaka-centred group is now Nippon Ishin no Kai).
  • The Kan Group or the "National Structure Research Council" (国のかたち研究会 Koku-no-katachi kenkyūkai) of former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, a moderate centrist group.
  • The Akamatsu Group or "Sanctuary" (サンクチュアリ Sankuchuari) of Hirotaka Akamatsu, formerly of the JSP and a moderately social-democratic group.
  • The Genba Group or the "Grand Design Japan Research Council (『日本のグランド・デザイン』研究会 Nihon no gurando-dezain" kenkyūkai) of Kōichirō Genba, a liberal group.
  • The ex-DSP Group or Takagi Group, known as the "Democratic Socialist Association" (民社協会 Minsha kyōkai) of Yoshiaki Takaki and Hiroshi Nakai, representing the former Democratic Socialist Party tradition in the DP. Social-democratic, nationalist and revisionist.
  • The Ōhata Group or the "Elementary Exchange Group" (素交会 Sokōkai) of Akihiro Ōhata, a moderate progressive group.
  • The Yokomichi Group or the "New Political Discussion Group" (新政局懇談会 Shin-seikyoku kondankai) of former parliamentary speaker Takahiro Yokomichi. A social democratic group originating in the JSP and was one of the more left-wing factions of the party.
  • The Hosono Group or the "Oath Committee" (自誓会 Jiseikai) of Gōshi Hosono. A conservative group.
  • The Noda Group or "Kaisei Group" (花斉会 Kaseikai) of former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. A moderately conservative group.
  • The Hiraoka-Kondō or "Liberal Committee" (リベラルの会 Riberaru-no-kai) of Shōichi Kondō and Hideo Hiraoka. A progressive liberal group.
  • The Nagashima Group or "National Axis Committee" (国軸の会 Kokujiku no kai) of Akihisa Nagashima. A conservative, nationalist and revisionist group.
  • The Hata Group or "Governance Research Council" (政権戦略研究会 Seiken senryaku kenkyūkai) of former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, a moderate centrist group.

Election results

General election results

Election Leader # of candidates # of seats won # of Constituency votes % of Constituency vote # of PR Block votes % of PR Block vote Government/opposition
2017 Seiji Maehara (de dure)
Katsuya Okada [lower-alpha 1] (de facto)
30 [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2]
14 / 465
2,646,765 [lower-alpha 1] 9.42% [lower-alpha 1] no nomination no nomination Opposition
  1. Under the banner of "Group of Independents"
  2. Under the "Democratic Party" banner

In the 2017 general election of members of the House of Representatives, the Democratic Party did not nominate any candidates. Several of its remaining members were elected without party nomination. Most of these joined the formation of the "Group of Independents" (Mushozoku no kai) House of Representatives caucus led by Katsuya Okada in October 2017.[55] Some others such as Seiji Maehara have left the party after the election.[56]

According to the party, its membership includes 14 members of the House of Representatives as of November, 2017:[57]

Councillors election results

Election Leader # of seats total # of seats won # of National votes % of National vote # of National seats won # of Prefectural votes % of Prefectural vote # of Prefectural seats won
2016 Katsuya Okada
49 / 242
32 / 121
11,751,015[58] 21.0%
11 / 48
14,215,956[60] 25.1%
21 / 73

Prefectural election results (incomplete)

  • June 2016 Okinawa assembly election: Since the time of the national DPJ government, Democrats have been a minor force in the prefecture; the DP only nominated one candidate who was not elected.
  • July 2016 Kagoshima gubernatorial election: DP and SDP supported the candidacy of former journalist Satoshi Mitazono who defeated LDP-Kōmeitō-supported three-term incumbent Yūichirō Itō.
  • October 2016 Niigata gubernatorial election: Ryūichi Yoneyama (LDP→JRP→JIP→DP), previously head of the DP Niigata 5th district branch and former unsuccessful candidate for both Houses of the Diet, stood with leftist support (JCP, LP, SDP, NSP, Greens) and defeated LDP-Kōmeitō-supported Tamio Mori.
  • July 2017 Tokyo assembly election: After having already lost several members to governor Koike's Tomin First no Kai in the run-up to the election, it lost another two seats in the election down to five.


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  56., November 2, 2017: 前原・菊田・鷲尾3氏、民進党を離党
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