Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Chief Deputy Secretary-General Shinjiro Koizumi canvassed Okinawa’s Naha City, a large voting constituency, and two other cities in the prefecture on Sept. 23 to support the candidate backed by the ruling coalition in the gubernatorial election. His relations with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has won a third term as LDP president, and some other LDP members have cooled since he voted for former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba in the LDP presidential race. But Koizumi works hard toward the central government’s long-cherished desire to recapture the Okinawa prefectural administration, thinking that helping the gubernatorial election is just part of his job as an LDP member. LDP executives, many of whom supported Abe in the presidential race, are also trying to garner support through campaign speeches and other media campaigns by taking advantage of Koizumi’s popularity.
“Hello everyone in Okinawa. It’s been a week since I saw you last. We only have one week to go before the election. Our rival is also serious, so let’s set up a gear!”
The audience gave a big hand when Koizumi enthusiastically appealed in front of the Okinawa prefectural government building. It was Koizumi’s second visit to Japan’s southernmost island prefecture since the election was officially announced, with his first visit there being on Sept. 16. He now holds the LDP’s senior post of “Chief Deputy Secretary-General” but did not go to Niigata Prefecture to back the party’s candidate when there was a gubernatorial election there in June despite it being a close race. His response to the Okinawa election became the focus of attention as the election will take place immediately after he supported Ishiba. But Koizumi is campaigning for the coalition-backed candidate as timetabled by the LDP leadership.
A senior LDP official analyzes, “[The LDP] is not good at canvassing in cities like Naha” and is considering making the most of Koizumi’s popularity while keeping a certain distance from Koizumi.