Representative interpellations will take place at both houses of the Diet at the present special session on Nov. 20-22. This will be the first time for the leaders of the political parties to take the stage at the Diet after the recent House of Representatives election. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has changed its interpellator from the originally slated Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai to Policy Research Council Chair Fumio Kishida. Nikai, who had already prepared his questions, requested that Kishida take his place and Kishida agreed immediately.
The Nikai and Kishida factions each fielded an independent candidate affiliated to their faction and clashed in the No. 2 district of Yamanashi in the recent Lower House election. The Kishida faction ended up winning in this election, but it was thought that there was serious conflict between the two factions because the Kishida faction had protested the process of selection of candidates led by Nikai. In this case, it is believed that Nikai has been bighearted enough not to harbor hard feelings, giving Kishida the limelight, to settle this matter, for the sake of smooth party management in the future. He also wanted to give Kishida, a possible successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the opportunity to make his presence felt as a future leader, in consideration of the party’s future.
It appears that Kishida, on his part, also wanted to mend ties with the Nikai faction by accepting Nikai’s offer. While Kishida has not announced his candidacy in the LDP presidential election in September 2018, he would probably like to keep the option of cooperating with the Nikai faction open in case he decides to run.
Former LDP Vice President Shojiro Kawashima, who was secretary general during the administration of Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, once said that “nobody knows what may happen tomorrow” in the political world.
While Abe is now more likely to win a third term as LDP president after the landslide victory in the Lower House election, moves toward “post-Abe” succession are taking place quietly behind the scenes.