By Shuhei Endo
The Hosoda faction (97 members) is starting to roll up its sleeves over the question of who will succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president. The faction is the largest in the party and is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s home base. A senior lawmaker in the faction welcomes the development, saying, “It energizes the faction.” In fact, however, there are no promising candidates in the faction yet. Prime Minister Abe, who has great influence on the faction, is apparently expected to recommend LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson Fumio Kishida, leader of the Kishida faction, as his successor. Meanwhile, the Hosoda faction is racking its brain over how to handle the post-Abe contest.
Former Defense Minister Seishiro Eto, the top advisor of the Hosoda faction, and Hakubun Shimomura, 65, LDP Election Strategy Committee chairperson [and the Hosoda faction’s deputy chairperson], met with the faction’s middle-ranking and young lawmakers on the night of Feb. 17 in Tokyo. “If we don’t field a candidate for the next LDP president, other factions will take advantage of it,” said one of the attendees. “If we don’t field a candidate, I will leave the faction,” said another lawmaker. “We will definitely field a candidate,” said Eto. “The best candidate is our chairperson, Hiroyuki Hosoda, but the second best is Shimomura.” Shimomura remained silent and just listened to Eto, a source said.
Other names mentioned within the faction as candidates for the next party president are LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Tomomi Inada, 61, and Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Yasutoshi Nishimura, 57, who are Prime Minister Abe’s close aides. (Abridged)