Ishiba dissolves faction after only 6 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shigeru Ishiba announces the dissolution of his faction at a press conference in the Diet Building on Thursday.

Former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba dissolved his 12-member faction on Thursday, following a series of failures in party presidential elections that left the veteran politician unable to keep the group together.

Members of the faction, which was established in 2015 to support Ishiba’s bid to become prime minister, decided to dissolve the group at a faction meeting at the Diet Building on Thursday.

After the meeting, Ishiba announced that the faction would become an informal political group.

“As a faction, we have invested a lot of energy in party presidential elections, among other things. In the future, we want to concentrate on thinking about policies,” Ishiba said.

He expressed his intention to hold regular voluntary study groups on themes such as constitutional revision, security and population decline.

He did not say whether he planned to run for the party leadership again in the future.

“What’s important is to decide exactly what we should achieve, not to discuss whether to seek [the leadership post].”

The Ishiba faction was established in September 2015 with 20 members, comprising non-faction lawmakers who supported Ishiba in the 2012 presidential race.

The faction never achieved mainstream status in the party, but produced cabinet ministers who served in the administration of Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, including former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ken Saito and former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura.

Although Ishiba is well known among the public, he has not received widespread support within the party.

In his third run for the party presidency in September 2018, he was defeated by then Prime Minister Abe in a head-to-head race.

In September 2020, he ran for the presidency despite opposition from within his faction, and finished last in the race against Suga and Fumio Kishida.

He stood down as faction leader following the defeat, but the group continued operating with a collective leadership structure during which some members left the faction, including Tatsuya Ito, a former minister of state for financial services, and Yuji Yamamoto, a former agriculture minister.

Ishiba did not run in the party presidential election in September this year, instead, he backed Taro Kono, who is now chairperson of the LDP Public Relations Headquarters.

Following the House of Representatives election in October, the number of lawmakers in the faction decreased to 12. Twenty nominations are needed to stand in LDP leadership elections.

Ishiba said that while some faction members were in favor of continuing the group, others had expressed their intention to leave.

Following the dissolution of the Ishiba faction, there are now six factions in the LDP.