JAPAN'S new opposition party was inaugurated yesterday with a live performance of the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The orchestra and the Beethoven were designed to attract apathetic Japanese voters to their televisions to watch the live presentation of Shinshinto's first convention. And the big production did at least mark a break with the traditional smoke-filled rooms in which most Japanese political conventions have been held. But since Beethoven's choral symphony is in itself an end-of-the-year tradition, with the music played by dozens of orchestras up and down Japan, there was no guarantee the new party's opening gambit would succeed. Shinshinto has been officially translated by the new grouping as the New Frontier Party and it brings together 10 former opposition parties or breakaway groups, none of which could hope to win power on their own. Party sources stress the New Frontier title does not indicate a yearning for the politics of the late US President John F. Kennedy who first espoused the goal of a new frontier in 1960. The only alternative translation of the Japanese characters for Shinshinto would have been New Progressive Party which was evidently ruled out as the word progressive has the ring of left-wing socialism in the minds of Japanese voters. Shinshinto is a natural offshoot of the reform of the Japanese electoral system which recently completed its often tortuous passage through the Japanese parliament. Under this reform Japan will have a House of Representatives elected in 300 single-eat constituencies, plus 200 members elected by proportional representation. Only a single large party will have a chance of defeating the dominant party in Japan's present coalition government, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). While the various parties and factions comprising Shinshinto have finally managed to come together, the price they have paid is the vagueness of their principles and plans. Similarly, the leadership of Shinshinto has virtually no fresh faces. The party chairman is Toshiki Kaifu, who was an LDP-backed prime minister in 1989-91. The secretary-general is Ichiro Ozawa, who was secretary-general of the LDP when Mr Kaifu was prime minister. So while Shinshinto's willingness to use television and Beethoven marks a new departure, the inaugural convention points to Japanese politics being dominated in future by two conservative parties.