The Liberal Democratic Party’s Aso faction (40 members), chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, is renewing its move to reunite with two other LDP groups that originated in the Kochi-kai, namely, the Kishida faction (44) and the Tanigaki group (about 30). On the evening of Dec. 8, the leaders of the Aso faction and the Tanigaki group will meet in Tokyo, and Aso intends to meet soon with Foreign Minister Kishida, leader of the Kishida faction, to feel him out on the idea of reuniting.
If the three groups merge, the resulting faction would be able to rival the Hosoda faction (96), the LDP’s largest faction and the faction that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hails from. The ulterior motives of the three are complex, however, and many hurdles remain to be cleared.
Aso faction and Tanigaki group to meet today; Aso and Kishida to talk soon
Some in the Kishida faction welcome the move, with a junior member saying, “It would be okay [to reunite] if Aso will enable Kishida to win ‘post-Abe.’” There is deep-rooted resistance in that faction, though, to reuniting with the group of former LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki as hard feelings remain from the Kato rebellion. Tanigaki has been hospitalized for a long time due to a cycling accident, but quite a few members of his group agree with a middle-echelon member who said, “We insist that Tanigaki be the candidate for prime minister.”