On April 26, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dined with 15 mid-ranking, junior Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers unaffiliated with any intraparty faction. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was also present there. The participants mainly included those who have been elected to office four times or less and are close to Suga. Speculation spreads that the move is aimed at solidifying support for Abe’s re-election in the LDP presidential race in September for a third term as prime minister.
The gathering was proposed by Suga and joined by State Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Manabu Sakai, State Minister of the Cabinet Office Ryosei Tanaka, State Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Hideki Makihara and among others. Suga has hosted meals with these mid-ranking LDP members frequently to win over them.
According to a participant, some people expressed their support for Prime Minister Abe at the meeting by saying that “the opposition parties are coming under more severe criticism than the government as they keep boycotting Diet deliberations.”