Photo/IllutrationJapanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii gives a speech on Sept. 24 at JR Amagasaki Station in Hyogo Prefecture. (Tsutomu Miyatake)

The Japanese Communist Party might support liberal candidates from the splintering Democratic Party who may otherwise find themselves abandoned and forgotten in an election battle dominated by two conservative forces.

JCP executives held a meeting on Sept. 28 to discuss strategy for the Oct. 22 Lower House election and to rail against the “betrayal” of Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara.

The JCP appears to be trying to form a left-leaning united front for the election.

Under a previous agreement to challenge the ruling coalition, four opposition parties, including the JCP and the Democratic Party, cooperated in elections by, for example, running just one candidate in each electoral district.

However, Maehara on Sept. 28 said the Democratic Party would not endorse any candidate for the Lower House election. Instead, he asked party members to seek endorsement from Kibo no To (Party of hope), a new party led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

Koike, however, has repeatedly said her party will only accept candidates who share her policy stances, meaning that liberal-minded politicians are out of luck.

For those Democratic Party members who run as independents, the JCP could offer support for their campaigns.

Akira Koike, chief of the JCP secretariat, and Seiji Mataichi, secretary-general of the Social Democratic Party, also reached an agreement in the Diet on Sept. 28 for the two parties to unify candidates in single-seat constituencies.

The JCP decided to field candidates against Democratic Party members endorsed by Kibo no To in the same single-seat constituencies.

The four-party united front was already in doubt when Maehara, who objected to working with the JCP, was elected Democratic Party president on Sept. 1.

JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii blasted Maehara for his “betrayal.”

“The Democratic Party unilaterally dismissed an agreement made by opposition parties to abolish the national security legislation and to recover constitutionalism,” Shii said at the party meeting on Sept. 28. “Above all, it is betrayal of the Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism.”

The alliance, founded by members of five citizens groups, submitted policy requests to executives of the four opposition parties, including Democratic Party Secretary-General Atsushi Oshima, on Sept. 26.

The organization has criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s national security legislation as an instrument that could cause Japan to be embroiled in a war overseas. It also opposes his plan to revise war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

The JCP and the Civil Alliance for Peace and Constitutionalism had heightened their presence after the Upper House election last year. But at that time, they could focus on one target: the Abe administration.

They are now worried about being forgotten in a one-on-one battle between Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and the like-minded Kibo no To.

A JCP member described Kibo no To as “the second LDP.”

“We are the only party that can act as a core counterpart for anti-Abe groups who oppose the security legislation,” the JCP member said.