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EXCLUSIVE: LDP members to study stricter recruitment of election candidates

  • August 14, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 9:17 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Aug. 14 (Jiji Press) — Lawmakers from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party are set to form a group as early as this autumn to study stricter screening procedures for the open recruitment of candidates for parliamentary elections, Jiji Press learned Wednesday.

The move comes on the heels of a series of misconduct by LDP lawmakers who won parliamentary seats for the first time in the 2012 House of Representatives election after being recruited publicly as candidates of the party.

The planned study group will submit its recommendations to the LDP leadership team so that they will be reflected in the process to choose candidates for the next Lower House election, informed sources said.

Among the scandal-hit individuals, Toru Ishizaki, a Lower House lawmaker, faced suspicion in July that he had assaulted one of his secretaries, and Tsuyoshi Tabata resigned as a Lower House lawmaker in February due to problems involving a female acquaintance. Kensuke Miyazaki quit as a Lower House member in February 2016 over an extramarital affair. In August 2017, Mayuko Toyota left the LDP over her assault of a secretary.

Ishizaki, Tabata, Miyazaki and Toyota all became LDP candidates through the public recruitment system.

Many newcomers supported by the LDP won seats in the 2012 election, in which the party scored a landslide victory and returned to power.

“People with brilliant careers passed the candidate recruitment system,” a senior LDP official said, noting that the system cannot judge their natures or personalities. Ishizaki and Toyota are former career bureaucrats, and Tabata once worked at the Bank of Japan.

Members of the planned study group will likely include Masaaki Taira, deputy chairman of the LDP Election Strategy Committee, and Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Masahiko Shibayama, according to the sources.

Taira and Shibayama won their first parliamentary seats in the 2005 Lower House election and the 2004 Lower House by-election, respectively, after they were selected as LDP candidates in the open recruitment system.

The study group will review LDP prefectural chapters’ screening procedures for the selection of candidates, the sources said. In particular, it will discuss ways to enhance the quality of interviews.

The group will specifically consider, among other things, the idea of allowing LDP executives, on top of senior prefectural chapter members, to be present at such interviews, the sources said.

But it is uncertain whether the group will be able to make effective reviews. “It’s difficult to detect problems with applicants at interviews,” a young LDP member said.

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