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LDP presidential race candidates eager to get support from popular Shinjiro Koizumi

  • July 11, 2018
  • , Mainichi , p. 2
  • JMH Translation
  • ,

By Yusuke Matsukura

 

A joint meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Research Commission on the Election System and other relevant divisions was held at the party headquarters on June 6 to discuss House of Councillors election system reforms. While most participants indicated their support of the proposal to add six seats, in deference to the desire of the LDP Upper House caucus to reach a decision quickly, Chief Deputy Secretary General Shinjiro Koizumi openly voiced his objection.

 

“I am concerned about how this would look to the people. We have failed to reach a conclusion on the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen issues, and yet we are trying to make a decision on an issue like this. We must not underestimate the people’s reaction,” he said. 

 

Everything Koizumi does attracts great attention ahead of the presidential election. Koizumi himself has not made clear whom he will support in the race, saying: “We are still not sure about who is running. I will think carefully about it until the end.” However, his view on the Abe administration is revealed in his criticism of the Upper House election system reforms citing the Moritomo and Kake issues, for which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is under fire.

 

His father, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, stated categorically in April that it will be “difficult” for Abe to win a third term as LDP president because “he has lost trust.” In the Niigata gubernatorial election, in which the ruling bloc clashed with the opposition, he gave support to the opposition candidate shortly before the start of official campaigning in May from his standpoint of advocating “zero nuclear plants.” The fact that the hugely popular Shinjiro turned down requests from the LDP Niigata chapter and others to campaign for the LDP candidate touched off speculations in relation to his father’s position.

 

The Hosoda, Aso, and Nikai factions staunchly support Abe. For potential candidates who are behind Abe in terms of votes from Diet members, Shinjiro is a highly coveted trump card because he can help win votes from rank-and-file party members.

 

In the 2012 LDP presidential election, which Abe won, Shinjiro later disclosed that he had voted for former Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba. Appearing on a Fuji TV program in April, Ishiba said: “We share the attitude of doing our best at all times when we have worked together on various occasions,” thus making an implicit call for Koizumi’s support.

 

On the other hand, Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida has tasked Koizumi to draft reform proposals. Former State Minister of Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara and other younger members of the Kishida faction are close to Koizumi. They are building their relationship with him through policymaking.

 

However, four days after Koizumi criticized the proposed amendments to the Public Offices Election Law at the party meeting, Hideyo Hanazumi, the candidate backed by the LDP and Komeito, won the Niigata gubernatorial race. Cabinet support ratings are also going up, emboldening the factions supporting Abe’s reelection for a third term. An LDP source revealed that “the Prime Minister was very pleased about the election victory without Koizumi’s help.”

 

A former cabinet minister who maintains a certain distance from Abe said: “He is still young. The LDP’s jewel must not be embroiled in other people’s fight.” What he meant is that the “Koizumi card” must not be wasted. Koizumi’s close aides are also unanimous in their prediction that “he will also not make clear where he stands on this election until the last minute.”

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