Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko is actively riding on the coattails of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
When Abe visited Ise Shrine on Jan. 4, Seko was walking alongside the prime minister. He continues making efforts to curry favor, aiming to leave the House of Councillors and become a member of the House of Representatives this year.
Seko entered the Cabinet last year, achieving his long-held goal. He was also appointed the following month as the minister for economic cooperation with Russia. Although Seko has been working vigorously, harsh voices are heard within the Liberal Democratic Party that his present status can be attributed to his personal relations with Abe.
Taking advantage of the current momentum, Seko has begun aiming to be elected in the next House of Representatives election to represent Wakayama Electoral District No. 3, LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai’s constituency. This is because there are still many supporters left in this district who supported Seko’s grandfather Koichi Seko, the late former director general of the now-defunct Economic Planning Agency. Nikai will turn 78 years old this February. It is rumored that he will retire and not run in the next Lower House election or his eldest son Toshiki will inherit his seat. However, as the son suffered a crushing defeat in the Gobo City (Wakayama Prefecture) mayoral election last year, it would be risky for him to run in a national election.
“When Seko and Nikai encounter each other at meetings of the local LDP chapter, they rarely talk,” complained a local LDP chapter official. Seko hopes that bother Nikai and his son will both self-destruct. However, as LDP secretary general, Nikai is the one who decides on the party’s official endorsement of candidates. It remains to be seen if Seko’s apple polishing will bear fruit in the next House of Representatives election, which is expected to take place this fall.