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LDP factions keep varying distances from PM Abe after Tokyo election debacle

  • July 13, 2017
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 6
  • JMH Translation
  • ,

By Haruka Osugi

 

In light of the crushing defeat suffered by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the recent Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, factions in the party are beginning to establish their positions with regard to their distance from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. While the factions led by former Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who are seen as possible successors to Abe, are distancing themselves, other factions have declared their support for Abe, eyeing the cabinet reshuffle taking place in early August.

 

During a Q&A session held after he delivered a speech in Tokyo on July 12, Ishiba pointed out that the debacle in the Tokyo assembly election “reflected the voters’ demand for the LDP to ‘work conscientiously in a transparent manner.’” Commenting on Abe’s proposal for a “revolution in human resources development” in June, he voiced the criticism that “it is not good to come up with something different each year, such as regional revitalization or dynamic engagement of all citizens.”

 

On the other hand, Kishida commented on Abe’s Abenomics policies at a symposium commemorating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Kochikai (Kishida faction). He said: “Consumption has remained stagnant and the middle class’s income is declining. It is necessary to think about fair distribution of wealth,” pointing out that policies to deal with social disparity are inadequate.

 

Kishida had kept his distance from Abe’s proposal to revise Article 9 of the Constitution even before the Tokyo election. Concerning the sagging cabinet support ratings, he stated: “The people are suspcious and dissatisfied not about what we did but about how we did it. The only solution is for the Prime Minister and the chief cabinet secretary to explain the processes patiently.”

 

Meanwhile, the Aso faction, which became the second largest faction by merging with the Santo faction and taking in other party members, promptly professed its support for Abe. The day after the Tokyo assembly election, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso stressed that “continuing to support the administration is in the national interest.” The Nikai faction has also confirmed its support for Abe.

 

At a party celebrating the 30th anniversary of Keiseikai, the predecessor of Heisei Kenkyukai (Nukaga faction), former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga indicated that ”supporting the Abe administration is in the national interest and will gain us the people’s understanding.”

 

The positions of LDP factions*

Hosoda faction

(96 members)

Abe hails from this faction. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary

Koichi Hagiuda and other close aides of Abe also belong to this faction.

Aso faction

(59 members)

Expanded by merger with the Santo faction and others. Aso pledged to “support the administration at its core.”

Nukaga faction

(55 members)

Declared support for the Abe administration

Kishida faction

(46 members)

Kishida is regarded as a possible successor to Abe. He keeps distance from Abe on economic policy.

Nikai faction

(43 members)

Confirmed support for Abe.

Ishiba faction

(19 members)

Ishiba, who is regarded as a possible successor to Abe, has been critical of the administration.

Ishihara faction

(14 members)

Economic Revitalization Minister Nobuteru Ishihara has good relations with Abe.

Tanigaki group

(about 20 members)

Former Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki is undergoing treatment for injuries from a cycling accident.

 

*The prime minister and heads of both houses of the Diet not counted.

 Tanigaki Group allows concurrent membership in other factions.

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