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POLITICS

LDP factions working to build ties with junior members

  • March 12, 2020
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

The leaders of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) factions have been busy meeting and dining with the junior members of their factions in a bid to solidify factional unity before September 2021, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s term as party president expires.

 

On March 11, LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, Acting Secretary-General Mikio Hayashi, and others met with Nikai faction members serving their seventh or eighth term. They dined together at a Japanese restaurant in the Akasaka district of Tokyo. Nikai likely exchanged opinions with them about how to build relationships with the younger members of the faction.

 

On March 3, Nikai dined with faction members who are first or second-term lawmakers. During the dinner, he said, “ Former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka also thoroughly campaigned his district on foot.” On the following day, March 4, Nikai met with the faction’s members serving a third term.

 

Prime Minister Abe has denied the possibility of his running for a fourth term as party president. Currently, LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida and former Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba are showing strong interest in taking over the leadership. The Takeshita faction is also hoping to field an official faction candidate. Lacking a strong potential candidate among its own ranks, the Nikai faction is trying to work out who could win the race so that the Nikai faction can preserve its position.

 

The LDP members who were elected for the first time after the 2012 Lower House election when the LDP regained the reins of government have been working in the context of the stable Abe administration, which has won a string of victories in national elections. Those members have been through a party president election only once. Now they may be individually approached by the candidates of other factions who are seeking their support in the next party presidency race.

 

The same concern is shared by the Hosoda faction, which is Abe’s base and the largest faction, as well as by the Aso faction, which is the second largest faction. The common problem among the Hosoda, Aso, and Nikai factions is that they are unable to find a viable candidate for the next party presidency election, someone who is capable of earning broad support.

 

The terms of the Lower House members will expire in October 2021. Some point out that depending on the timing, candidates’ popularity and their ability to be the “face of the party [in a national election]” may be prioritized over factional interests.

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