The momentum of the Nikai faction (Shisuikai) knows no bounds.
In July, Upper House members Kanehiko Shindo and Tatsuo Hirano joined the faction. Shindo hails from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and is an advisor to the National Land Improvement Political League (NLIPL). LDP General Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai, who leads the faction, is chair of the NLIPL and aims to further increase the land improvement budget.
So far, the NLIPL has requested budget in the amount of about 500 billion yen, the same level as that prior to the fall of the LDP from power. The budget is approximately 450 billion yen for this fiscal year but “looks set to return to 500 billion yen next fiscal year,” according to a political desk reporter. According to the reporter, “A large budget request will be made in the second supplementary budget to be deliberated at the autumn extraordinary session of the Diet.” Nikai’s budget requests related to public works and construction continue to expand, and this reinforces the faction’s momentum.
A top party official said, “It is dangerous for the Nikai faction to hold too much power.” This has led to growing concern that cannot be expressed openly. “When LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki was hospitalized after a bicycle accident, the Nikai faction initiated a rumor that Tanigaki was in critical condition. This was frowned upon as Nikai’s openly aiming for the post of secretary-general,” according to the reporter. Looking ahead, it is believed that independents Kotaro Nagasaki and Kishiro Nakamura will return to the LDP and join the Nikai faction. Concern will likely continue to grow.