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Abe, Kishida woo junior lawmakers’ support for LDP election, Ishiba focuses on local chapters

  • February 23, 2018
  • , Yomiuri , p. 4
  • JMH Translation
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Ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election this fall, the prospective candidates are actively trying to secure the support of the party’s Diet members. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president), who is vying for reelection for a third term, has been dining with junior Diet members at his living quarters in the Kantei, while Policy Research Council (PRC) Chairman Fumio Kishida, who is regarded as a leading candidate to succeed Abe, is making efforts to enhance support among House of Representatives members serving their first term. Former Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda, and other aspirants are also laying the groundwork to expand their support base.

 

LDP Lower House members serving their third term gathered at Abe’s living quarters in the Kantei on the evening of Feb. 22. This was the fourth time Abe has met third-term lawmakers over dinner, following similar gatherings on Feb. 13, 19, and 20. Each time, some 20 lawmakers attended the dinners, where they spoke about their activities in their constituencies, followed by Abe’s short comments. Abe also made himself available for photo-taking with individual lawmakers. At the dinner on Feb. 22, he asked the junior Diet members to “actively participate in the historic debate on constitutional revision.”

 

Beginning with an invitation for all first-term Lower House members on Feb. 1, Abe has been hosting dinners for junior lawmakers serving from one to three terms in quick succession this month. In particular, Diet members serving their third term are the batch who got elected for the first time after the LDP led by Abe recaptured power from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the 2012 Lower House election. An aide to Abe explained that, “He wants to gain advantage in the presidential race by taking good care of his ‘followers.’”

 

Abe’s major rivals have their own thoughts about the election.

 

Kishida, as PRC chairman, hosted a get-together with first-term Diet members at an expensive Korean barbecue restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo on the evening of Feb. 13. This gathering was held at the suggestion of Kishida faction members. All 19 rookie lawmakers showed up.

 

Kishida’s basic strategy is to support Abe’s reelection for a third term and go for the presidency after his term ends. However there are persistent calls in his faction for him to run in the election. Kishida will make his decision on whether he will run right before the election. The party he held was meant to build a closer relationship with junior Diet members in case he decides to run.

 

Abe’s faction, the Hosoda faction, which is the largest in the party, the no. 2 Aso faction, and the no. 5 Nikai faction support Abe. The no. 4 Kishida faction is anxious that Kishida has a disadvantage in terms of Diet members’ votes.

 

Meanwhile, Ishiba, who does not hold any important government job, devotes great efforts to visiting the local chapters. He accommodates the requests from LDP local chapters to make speeches as much as possible in his effort to boost support from the regions.

 

Noda is starting a political seminar for women in April, aiming to make her presence in the party felt, focusing on the issue of empowerment of women.

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