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Political heavyweights Suga, Nikai working together for Abe’s reelection as LDP president

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, the two leading supporters of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP president), are cooperating closely on the party’s presidential election in September.


Suga’s message expressing appreciation to Nikai was read out at a seminar organized by the LDP Wakayama chapter held in Wakayama City on July 8. On the other hand, Nikai, who chairs the Wakayama chapter, collected signatures supporting Abe’s reelection for a third term as LDP president. Abe’s two “head clerks” are working hand-in-hand for a common goal.


Suga’s message read out at the seminar paid respect to Nikai by stating: “Wakayama chapter chairman, Secretary General Nikai, has presided over the party and built a system for the government and the party to move politics forward. He is at the center of the Abe administration.”


Suga was originally invited to make a 15-minute speech at the seminar. This was based on a proposal from Executive Acting Secretary General Motoo Hayashi, a close confidant of Nikai, that “the presence of both the key person of the government (Suga) and the key person of the party (Nikai) will have great impact.” Suga consented readily. Having the two of them together in Wakayama was meant to show that Abe’s election for a third term as LDP president is a fait accompli. However, in the end Suga was unable to attend due to his preoccupation with responding to the disaster caused by torrential rains in western Japan.


Suga and Nikai were once said to be at odds over Diet management right after Nikai became secretary general in 2016. However, they often dine together to exchange views these days.


Suga visited Nikai’s office at the party headquarters on his birthday last February. Nikai has also praised Suga, saying: “He often comes to me for advice and is working hard to put my advice into practice.”


Both Suga and Nikai are politicians who started as local assembly members and worked their way up, so they have had a tougher time than hereditary Diet members. Many members of the Nikai faction (Shisui-kai, 44 members) are also affiliated with Suga-related groups.


At Nikai’s initiative, shikishi [large message cards] were handed out at the Wakayama chapter’s July 8 party for participants to sign and write messages supporting Abe’s reelection for a third term. The shikishi were collected to be presented by Wakayama chapter officers to the Kantei on July 10.

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