Moves are underway within the Liberal Democratic Party’s Nukaga faction to get former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga to step down as faction leader, a source familiar with the matter revealed on Jan. 24. Upper House members of the faction are taking the initiative and have already left the matter in the hands of Hiromi Yoshida, who is secretary general of LDP lawmakers in the upper chamber. Faction cadre in the UH has expressed their intention of calling for Nukaga to step down as early as on Jan. 25. If he does not accept this, they will consider leaving the faction in group.
The Nukaga faction is derived from the Tanaka, Takeshita and Obuchi factions. In olden days, it was home to many LDP presidents, but the last president from the faction was Keizo Obuchi. Since then, it has produced no presidents. It is the third largest faction in the LDP.
The moves are aimed at dumping Nukaga and increasing the faction’s influence through a leadership change. A defensive aspect also plays a part. There is concern within the faction that it may become a “mowing place” for other factions to snatch votes during the party’s presidential election, which is scheduled to take place in September, as it has no promising candidates.
From the Nukaga faction, Mikio Aoki, who presided over the general assembly of LDP members in the Upper House, was a heavyweight with political clout. This suggests that traditionally, UH members have a stronger say in the Nukaga faction than in other factions.
Nukaga became faction head in 2009 following the retirement of his predecessor Yuji Tsushima from politics. Discontent lingers within the faction, with one of its members saying that “he should not stay as chairman as he is not aiming to become prime minister.”
Meanwhile, some in the faction hope for a settlement through consultations, as they “do not want to make Nukaga step down in a forcible fashion.” LDP General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita is being named as a prospective successor. Nukaga’s response will become the key. (Abridged)