Japan’s ruling LDP stresses unity with coalition partner at party convention

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister and Liberal Democratic Party President Fumio Kishida makes a speech at a party convention in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Sunday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party stressed its unity with junior coalition partner Komeito at a party convention on Sunday, while also adopting a campaign policy of cooperation with the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), a major support body for the top opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

“If we’re faced with a national challenge, can we trust this country with a party other than the ruling coalition of the LDP and Komeito? I don’t think so,” Prime Minister and LDP President Fumio Kishida said during a speech at the convention, emphasizing the need to stabilize his administration.

Regarding the House of Councillors election this summer, Kishida said, “We’ll fight in unity, and I’ll lead the way.”

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said: “The foundation has been laid for the two parties’ unity. We want to move forward in ways that bring about substantial results.” Yamaguchi attended the convention as a guest.

Many LDP members said Kishida has displayed strong leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “It was a lively convention,” said Shigeru Ishiba, a former LDP secretary general. 

Relations between the LDP and Komeito were temporarily strained over the issue of cooperating in the upper house election campaign. The LDP aimed to settle the matter before the party convention, and through a meeting of LDP and Komeito leaders on March 10 and talks the following day among their secretaries general and election strategy committee heads, the two parties ultimately agreed to cooperate in each electoral district.

In an effort to divide the opposition camp, the 2022 campaign policy adopted at the convention clearly stated that the LDP would “actively promote policy talks with Rengo and other friendly labor unions.” Private-sector labor unions and other unions support the Democratic Party for the People.

The LDP and Komeito have started discussing policies with the DPFP.

DPFP leader Yuichiro Tamaki said of the LDP campaign policy, “We now have an environment in which our policies will be realized more easily.”

The LDP has acted swiftly to strengthen relations with Komeito and the DPFP. “Things are in place now to win the House of Councillors election,” a senior LDP official said.

Some issues still need to be addressed. Although infections with the novel coronavirus are on a downward trend, they could surge again following the resumption of social activities, which could result in criticism of the government and the LDP.

Scandals related to politics and money have continued as well. On Monday, the Hiroshima Public Prosecutors Office indicted 34 local assembly members and others for receiving cash in a large vote-buying scandal in the Hiroshima Constituency for the 2019 upper house election. Kishida was elected from Hiroshima Prefecture, and some LDP members worry that prolonged turmoil in the prefecture containing his constituency will make a bad impression on the public.

In Okinawa Prefecture, the relocation of the U.S. Futenma Air Station in Ginowan has been an issue. The LDP needs to swiftly build a steady base as it aims to win the gubernatorial election in autumn by beating incumbent Denny Tamaki, who intends to stop the relocation project.