There is an abundance of “cabinet minister aspirants” in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). It used to be that Diet members serving five or more terms in the House of Representatives or three or more terms in the House of Councillors became eligible for cabinet appointments. Based on this criterion, there are around 70 minister hopefuls at present. Since getting cabinet jobs for their members is a benchmark of the faction leaders’ power, they are scrambling to lobby Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, chairman of the Kishida faction, met with Abe for more than 10 minutes at Haneda Airport on July 27. According to a Kishida faction lawmaker, Kishida asked Abe to appoint members from his faction to the cabinet at that meeting. The Hosoda faction, the largest LDP faction which Abe used to belong to, has reportedly prepared a list of eligible members and submitted it to the Prime Minister.
However, Abe has so far tended to make his own cabinet appointments without giving heed to recommendations from the factions. Therefore, it appears that the aspirants believe that they cannot rely on their factions alone to get a cabinet job.
On July 25, Lower House members Yasufumi Tanahashi and Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, representing a group calling themselves the “association for vigorous support for the accomplishment of Abenomics,” handed their policy recommendations to Abe. The “Kisaragi-kai,” a self-proclaimed “support group of the Abe administration” consisting of some 100 mid-ranking and junior lawmakers from various factions, has asked Abe’s close confidant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, to be the group’s adviser in light of the death of its former leader Kunio Hatoyama.