The four LDP leaders who are the key to Kishida’s immediate success
New Liberal Democratic Party chairman Fumio Kishida will not have much time to get comfortable in the prime minister’s office after being officially elected to the country’s top post on Monday.
Kishida, who is expected to be appointed prime minister at an extraordinary Diet session following a successful LDP leadership campaign, will soon face a general election, which is expected to take place on November 7 or 14.
While it seems unlikely that the ruling LDP-Komeito coalition will lose its majority in the lower house, a poor performance in the elections could create pressure between parties for leadership changes afterwards.
The success of the LDP in the elections will depend not only on Kishida but also on four senior party officials who were appointed on Friday.
As three are prominent allies of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, their appointments have already drawn criticism – including within the party – that Kishida has returned de facto control of the PLD to Abe.
Here are the four lawmakers just below Kishida in the party’s new executive formation:
Akira Amari, Secretary General
As General Secretary, Amari will lead the day-to-day operations of the LDP and has authority over who he supports in general elections and how party funding is allocated.
Amari was a key supporter of Abe’s economic policies, a staunch supporter of nuclear power, and a skeptic of the rapid increase in the use of renewable energy at its expense. He was one of Kishida’s first supporters for the post of prime minister and is one of the so-called 3A politicians, along with Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who have cooperated behind the scenes to influence the party and its leadership. . Amari was also a strong opponent of his predecessor, Toshihiro Nikai.
Amari is a former civil servant in the Abe administration, where he served as Minister of Economic Revitalization and Fiscal Policy between 2012 and 2016. He was also Minister of Commerce between 2006 and 2008, during Abe’s first term, then under the leadership of his successor, Yasuo Fukuda. . Amari also worked on deregulation issues under Aso, who heads the faction to which Amari belongs, when Aso was prime minister in 2008-2009.
In 2016, Amari was forced to resign from Abe’s cabinet after it was revealed he had received money from a construction company trying to win a contract with a government-backed organization. However, prosecutors decided not to charge him. After his appointment on Friday, Amari denied any involvement in the scandal.
Sanae Takaichi, President of the LDP Policy Research Council
Takaichi is another close ally of Abe, as he supported her against Kishida in the LDP presidential election. Takaichi is known for her hawkish and right-wing views, and her entry into the race galvanized the more conservative members of the party.
Kishida’s victory in the September 29 elections came against the vaccine czar and administration reform minister Taro Kono. Kono, although more popular with the public and among the party locals, lost the second round to Kishida, who had the support of many veteran Diet members. Many of those who voted for Takaichi in the first round switched to Kishida in the last round, putting him in political debt and that of Abe.
As chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council, Takaichi will oversee the study, research and planning of party policies which, after the council discussions, will become the legislative plans proposed by the LDP.
Takaichi simultaneously held state ministerial positions during Abe’s first term as Prime Minister in 2006-2007, with his portfolios including Okinawa and the Northern Territories, science and technology policy, gender equality and food safety. She had two terms as Home Affairs Minister after Abe returned to power in 2012, the first between 2014-2017 and the second between 2019-2020.
Takaichi has endured its fair share of controversy. In 2016, she told the Diet that the government could force television stations to cease their airwaves if they ignored official calls to remain politically neutral, as defined by the broadcasting law. She said she would not resort to such measures but that future ministers could.
Tatsuo Fukuda, President of the General Council of the PLD
Fukuda, 54, is considered one of the most prominent leaders of the younger generation of LDP Diet members, having first been elected to the Lower House in 2012, when Abe returned to power.
His new position will allow him to supervise the general council of the party, whose members are responsible for deliberating and deciding matters relating to the management of the party, as well as matters relating to the affairs of the Diet. Normally, the job goes to a party veteran who is familiar with LDP procedures. But Kishida gave the job to Fukuda in an attempt to show he was interested in balancing older and younger party leaders.
Fukuda is the son of former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and the grandson of former Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda and has been featured in the media as a future Prime Minister himself. He has held positions in the party relating to agriculture and food strategy, defense and diet affairs.
After graduating from Keio University, Fukuda spent a year at the Johns Hopkins University Graduate School of International Studies and continues to be interested in security issues. Prior to the PLD leadership elections, Fukuda led a group of around 90 young Diet members, many of whom won their first elections in 2012 with Abe’s help, to discuss party reform with the candidates. Fukuda is a member of the faction of which Abe is now the de facto leader.
Toshiaki Endo, Chairman of the LDP Electoral Strategy Committee
Endo is a close ally of Kishida and helped lead his campaign for the party’s presidential election last year, in which Kishida lost to Yoshihide Suga. He was Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Minister in 2015-2016. He has a reputation for having a large political network, including some members of opposition parties. Following the earthquake, tsunami and the triple collapse of the Fukushima nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, when the LDP was no longer in power, Endo held talks with the then-ruling Democratic Party of Japan on recovery efforts.
As the general elections approach, the choice of a president for the electoral strategy is particularly crucial. The committee that Endo will lead is responsible for developing the party’s strategy for the national elections and for organizing all related matters. This includes defining candidate selection procedures, researching electoral policies, including voter surveys, and providing candidate support.
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