The leaders of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and Japan Innovation Party (JIP) have criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for describing the upcoming House of Councillors election as a head-on clash between the ruling coalition and an alliance between the DPJ and the Japanese Communist Party (JCP).
"It's extremely poor labeling. I'd say if he wants us to face him openly and squarely in debate, he should say something more tactful," DPJ President Katsuya Okada told a March 3 news conference.
"We'll never form a government with the JCP. The prime minister is arbitrarily labeling us," said Yorihisa Matsuno, leader of the JIP.
Both the DPJ and the JIP are wary that the prime minister is trying to impress on the public that the two key opposition parties are tilting to the left, especially as both parties have ideologically conservative members.
JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii argued that it is not just the DPJ and the JCP, but five opposition parties as well as citizens who will confront the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito governing coalition and their allies.
"The remarks by the prime minister reflect his sense of crisis and rivalry with the alliance of opposition parties. We'll continue our efforts in this direction (of joint struggle)," Shii said on March 3.