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CCS Suga emerges as possible successor to PM Abe, may form his own faction

The consensus in Nagato-cho right now is that even if Shigeru Ishiba or Fumio Kishida runs in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election in September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is certain to win a third term as LDP president.


However, the question is what happens after that. A political news editor explained: “With many members of the Kishida faction clamoring for him to fight in the election, Kishida is now more likely to run. However, if he really runs, this will compromise his chances to have the premiership ‘handed over’ to him. In which case, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will quickly emerge as a successor to Abe.”


Suga meets frequently with junior Diet members unaffiliated to any factions. This group of 28 members of both houses of the Diet is now known as a prototype “Suga group” which overlaps with several other organizations, such as “Ganesha-no-kai” and “Idaten-no-kai,” groups consisting only of House of Councillors members, and so forth.


House of Representatives member Hidehiro Mitani, who turned down the Nikai faction’s invitation to become a member, is now affiliated with the Suga group as an independent. He said:


“Mr. Suga has been really good to me. I am a ‘Suga faction’ Diet member. I hold regular meetings with Diet members who support Mr. Suga’s political stance and who are willing to follow his leadership.”


Abe reportedly advised Suga to form his own faction three years ago, so it is possible that he might do so.


A former cabinet minister observes: “The only option for Diet members not belonging to any faction who want to become ministers is to join the Suga group. While only 28 lawmakers openly admit to being a member, its membership may reach around 50 if people from other factions also join. The votes of the three major factions are still short of a majority, but tapping the Suga group’s support will make a majority, so this group will have great influence on the presidential election.”


Suga’s [planned] participation in the convention of the LDP Wakayama chapter on July 8 in Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai’s home constituency is seen in the party as a “symbol of the alliance between unaffiliated Suga and Nikai,” according to the above former minister.


The Suga group as a whole will support Abe in the presidential election, thus enabling Suga to become the key person. Depending on how the political situation moves, he may become successor to Prime Minister Abe. This is a scenario that is fast gaining credence at present.


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