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Critical test for Komeito lies in ability to expand its coalition role

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Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner, held its first party convention in two years on Sept. 30 and re-elected Natsuo Yamaguchi as its leader.

Yamaguchi has headed the party since 2009.

However, Yoshihisa Inoue, the party's long-serving secretary-general, was replaced by Tetsuo Saito.

Yamaguchi's pledge of continued support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet as the LDP’s principal political ally leaves Komeito open to accusations of simply being a political force that only helps the powerful ruling party pursue its agenda.

In recent years, Komeito’s reputation as a party committed to pacifism has waned sharply as it has failed to serve as a bulwark against Abe’s arrogant politics driven by force of numbers in the Diet.

Komeito will be doomed to becoming increasingly divorced from the thoughts and feelings of grassroots voters unless it learns from its mistakes and becomes more vocal in expressing its own policy views within the coalition.

The LDP and Komeito have remained partners through nearly two decades since 1999, including a period of being out of power.

The two parties are inseparably bound in a........

© The Asahi Shimbun