(Sankei: August 22, 2015 – p. 5)
Seiko Noda, former chairperson of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s General Council, revealed on Aug. 21 that she is considering the possibility of running in the LDP presidential election to be held in September. If Noda decides to run for president, there is a possibility that an actual election will be held. However, since both Minister for Vitalizing Local Economy Shigeru Ishiba and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who were regarded as possible rival candidates for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have already decided not to run in the election, it is more likely that Abe will be reelected uncontested.
After attending a meeting hosted by an economic organization in Gifu City, her home constituency, Noda stressed to reporters: “I don’t think the leadership election will be uncontested because I believe the LDP has many promising lawmakers.” As for whether she will run or not, she said: “I have been aiming for that (becoming the prime minister and LDP president) since I was first elected to the Diet, because I feel like I will go astray without that goal. Every time I considered running for president, I gave up or was forced to give up. I’m in the same situation now.” She implied that she might run in the election.
However, it remains to be seen whether she will be able to garner the endorsement of 20 LDP lawmakers, which is a requirement for candidacy in an LDP presidential race. The Hosoda faction, which is the largest faction in the LDP, the Nikai faction, and the Tanigaki group have announced their support for Abe’s reelection.
Many LDP members are hoping for Abe’s uncontested reelection, with one mid-level member saying, “Now is time for the party to concentrate on deliberations on the security bills.” The hurdle for Noda’s candidacy is extremely high.
Meanwhile, Ishiba indicated that he will forgo running in the leadership race, saying at a press conference on Aug. 22, “As a cabinet member, I have made utmost efforts for the Abe administration to implement measures while gaining public confidence. That’s all I have to say.”
Although Ishiba delivered a speech at the Gifu meeting in which Noda participated, he did not mention whether or not he plans to run in the presidential election.