On July 30, Chief Deputy Secretary-General Shinjiro Koizumi, 37 years old, of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was in the village of Okawa with a population of about 400 located in the middle of Shikoku Mountains in Kochi Prefecture. He was with other LDP young and middle-level lawmakers visiting farm families under the strong sunlight in this southern region. About 20 members of the press followed the group to report every move of Koizumi, who is seeking ways to revitalize underpopulated areas.
“The least populated village in Japan must be the most charming place in the country, so the media should report about it,” Koizumi emphasized to the press after inspecting the village.
Okawa Mayor Kazuhito Wada, 59 years old, said, “It is unusual for such many reporters to visit our village,” indicating wherever Koizumi goes, he attracts a great deal of attention. Although each LDP camp aiming to field a candidate in the upcoming presidential election slated for September is paying close attention to Koizumi, he just repeatedly says, “I will give the matter through until the last moment.”
During a radio program on July 30, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, 61 years old, cited the fact that when he was in office, Koizumi was the Youth Division director. Ishiba said, “I can trust him as we worked together at difficult times,” indicating his closeness to the young lawmaker. In fact, Koizumi voted for Ishiba in the 2012 presidential election.
However, Koizumi has said little regarding the presidential election. “If I were to mention someone nowadays, it would be connected with the presidential election,” said the lawmaker. He is equally distant from each camp. When Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda, 57 years old, indirectly sounded out a possible meeting with Koizumi, he declined, saying, “Let’s meet after autumn.”
Why does Koizumi remain silent regarding the presidential election? One of lawmakers close to him conjectures, “Koizumi tries to keep a low profile in Nagata-cho political center which is rife with jealousy.”
Koizumi criticized the falsification of finalized official documents by the finance ministry, “The incident was the worst scandal in the postwar political history,” he said. He called for setting up a special fact-finding committee in the Diet to probe the scandal involving Kake school institution. Some experienced LDP lawmakers were critical of Koizumi, with one of them saying, “He is getting carried away.”
The ruling and opposition parties waged fierce campaigns for the Niigata gubernatorial election. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the 76-year-old father of Shinjiro, shook hands with an anti-nuclear candidate backed by opposition parties. Under the circumstances, the young Koizumi declined to help a candidate backed by the ruling parties, saying, “I don’t’ want to cause trouble for the candidate.” The candidate supported by the ruling parties won the election, which added momentum to Prime Minister Abe’s victory in the upcoming presidential election for his third consecutive term. At a post-election meeting of the LDP board attended by Koizumi, Abe said sarcastically, “All LDP members were united and we were able to win the election.”
Koizumi seems to sense such that the atmosphere in the LDP is unfavorable.
He raised a doubt about a bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law by adding six seats to the House of Councillors, saying, “We should not fool the public.” LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Koichi Hagiuda, a 54-year-old aide of Abe’s, warned Koizumi, “Don’t meddle the affairs of the neighboring house (the upper chamber of the Diet).” Koizumi said, “I will abide by the party’s decision,” and voted for the bill. One senior LDP senior lawmaker said, “He knows how to conduct himself.”
Koizumi’s words and deeds indicate that while keeping a critical eye on the administration, he strikes a good balance between garnering public support through criticism of the government and minimizing resentment of him by the LDP.
Nevertheless, Koizumi will eventually have to compete by expressing his opinions more than he listens to the opinions of the party. “When I feel something is wrong, I candidly say it’s wrong,” said Koizumi in a speech delivered recently, as if he is speaking to himself. “I don’t want to have to regret having kept silent when I shouldn’t have.” His remarks indicate he would be confident as a candidate in a future LDP presidential election.