Tokyo, April 19 (Jiji Press)–Toshihiro Nikai will become the second-longest serving secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday, overtaking former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
If Nikai, 81, stays in the post until Sept. 8, he will replace the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, whom he looks up to as his political mentor, as the longest-serving LDP secretary-general.
Nikai took the post in August 2016, succeeding Sadakazu Tanigaki. He has led the LDP to successive national election victories and supported Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
He has repeatedly proposed a change in LDP rules to allow Abe to serve a fourth term as LDP president. Also, Nikai maintains good relations with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who will reach the end of her current tenure and is expected to seek re-election in July.
On the government’s 100,000-yen cash handout program for each resident as an economic stimulus measure to fight the coronavirus, Nikai expressed his intention to ask the government to look at the financial aid last Tuesday, clearing the way for a policy shift from a separate, unpopular cash benefit program.
Nikai heads a 47-lwamaker faction, the fourth largest within the LDP. Although there is no strong candidate in the faction to replace Abe as party president, the Nikai faction aims to play a key role in the selection of Abe’s successor.
The choice of Nikai will change the race to succeed Abe, an executive of the Nikai faction said.
On the other hand, some LDP members are discontent that Nikai are giving preferential treatment to members of his own faction in personnel appointments in the party. They call for Nikai to be replaced in the next shake-up of the LDP leadership team.