Photo/Illutration From left: Seiji Osaka, Junya Ogawa, Kenta Izumi and Chinami Nishimura pose before a debate at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on Nov. 22. They are running in the leadership election of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

Kenta Izumi is leading the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan’s presidential race, but the Nov. 30 election appears heading toward a runoff to determine the next opposition leader, according to an Asahi Shimbun survey.

Izumi, 47, the CDP’s policy chief, has gained support from nearly 40 of the 140 CDP lawmakers, followed by Junya Ogawa, 50, former parliamentary vice minister for internal affairs, who is backed by nearly 30 lawmakers, according to the survey.

Both Chinami Nishimura, 54, former senior vice minister of health, labor and welfare, and Seiji Osaka, 62, a former CDP policy chief, are supported by around 25 Diet members.

From the start, the leadership race to succeed Yukio Edano has had no clear front-runner.

About 30 CDP lawmakers declined to reveal their preferred candidates in the survey, making the race more difficult to predict.

Izumi is not expected to gain a majority, even if the ballots of local assembly members and rank-and-file members are included. That means a run-off will be likely held between the top two vote-getters in the first round.

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed CDP lawmakers and their associates by Nov. 28 for the survey.

Izumi joined the CDP from the Democratic Party for the People in September last year along with other DPP members. His supporters within the CDP consist mainly of the former DPP members and those of the group headed by Ichiro Ozawa, the former leader of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Ogawa, backed by most members of the group led by former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, has also gained support from midranking lawmakers who have each won four to six Diet elections.

Nishimura has received support mainly from the group led by former Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Senior lawmakers hope that she can provide a fresh face for the party.

Osaka and Ogawa belong to the CDP’s biggest group, but Osaka appears to be gaining the majority of support from the group.

Along with the party’s Diet members, prospective CDP-backed candidates in national elections, local assembly members and rank-and-file members and supporters will cast their ballots in the points-based election system.

The four contenders will compete for a total of 572 points.

If no candidate wins a majority, a run-off will be held for 333 points.

The Asahi Shimbun