Confusion over the plethora of party names

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 July, 1993, 12:00am

JAPAN'S coalition-building is a complicated and confusing process, both at home and abroad, due to the plethora of new party names and their proper translation.

In Japan, the LDP is known as Jiminto, an abbreviated form of Liberal Democratic Party. The Komeito or Clean Government Party, the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) and the Japan Communist Party all match their Japanese and English names.

The former Japan Socialist Party is, however, a case apart. Dialectical differences between its moderate and left-wing factions, a few years ago, permitted a change in the English name only, to Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ).

But, for the Japanese, the party remained Sakaito (The Socialist Party), which is why most foreigners disdain SDPJ since no such party exists in Japanese.

Another complication is that there are, ostensibly, three democratic socialist parties - the SDPJ, the DSP and the Social Democratic Union (SDU). For the SDU, most prefer to use its Japanese name, Shaminren.

In English, the SDU is also called Union of Democratic Socialist Parties (USDP), a misnomer if ever there was one.

The three new opposition parties have, inevitably, added to the confusion, even though two of them have thoughtfully adopted official English titles.

The largest of them, Shinseito, briefly flirted with the all-embracing Renaissance Party before deciding it was a little too revolutionary. It settled, instead, for Japan Renewal Party.

Officially, and in direct translation, the next largest opposition group, Nihon Shinto, is the Japan New Party (JNP).

But the smallest new party, Sakigake, is the one in desperate need of an official title because it has had no time to give itself one.

The need for familiarisation with the new names stems from another reality: these 10 political parties may be joined by many more as the coalition-building process progresses.