Japan’s ruling LDP seeks to maintain cooperation with key opposition party

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, expresses his gratitude to Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki, left, over the passage of a supplementary budget in the Diet on May 27.

The Liberal Democratic Party continues to make efforts to maintain a cooperative relationship with an opposition party, the Democratic Party for the People, despite fielding a candidate to challenge a DPFP incumbent in this summer’s upper house election.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is also president of the LDP, expressed understanding of DPFP demands during a session of the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on May 27.

“I have no objection to the view that education is of great importance,” Kishida said in answer to a question. “After thinking through the connections between financial resources and financial affairs, a stance to consider government bonds for education is important.”

The prime minister was showing his sympathy for DPFP leader Yuichiro Tamaki’s insistence that government bonds exclusively for funding education need to be issued.

The DPFP has also insisted on the activation of the so-called trigger clause as a measure to cope with surging crude oil prices, but put it off during discussions with the ruling bloc of the LDP and Komeito.

“I have not given up on this,” Tamaki emphatically said in committee.

Kishida showed his understanding, saying, “I know the discussions among the three parties are continuing.”

Tamaki, for his part, expressed agreement with Kishida’s economic policy.

“I absolutely agree on ‘investments in human resources,’” Tamaki said.

The Diet debate between Kishida and Tamaki gave the impression that the two took each other into consideration to a certain extent.

Summer election issues

The DPFP voted for the draft of the fiscal 2022 supplementary budget. After a plenary session, Kishida visited the Diet rooms of the LDP and Komeito, then the room of a parliamentary group to which the DPFP belongs.

“I would like your continued cooperation on policy debates and other affairs,” Kishida said while bowing repeatedly toward Tamaki.

Kishida has been treating Tamaki delicately partly because of the situation in the Yamagata prefectural electoral district that will be contested in this summer’s upper house election.

On May 27, LDP Election Strategy Committee Chairperson Toshiaki Endo visited Yamagata City and told prefectural assembly members of the party and others that the LDP plans to field an endorsed candidate.

Within the LDP, some members had once planned to give up fielding a candidate in the district as the DPFP’s incumbent upper house lawmaker is seeking reelection for a third term. The idea was to help strengthen the relationship with the DPFP. But when this plan did not happen, it was feared that the relationship between the two parties would worsen.

The rumor was that some DPFP lawmakers might vote against the draft of the supplementary budget. But at the plenary session of the lower house on May 27, no DPFP members did so.

Some in the LDP voiced their relief, with a senior member saying, “The course for cooperative ties has not changed.”

Furthermore, senior LDP members, including Policy Research Council Chairperson Sanae Takaichi, have exchanged opinions about policies with executive members of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), which supports the DPFP.

The LDP has approached Rengo with the aim of not only maintaining ties with the DPFP, but also splitting the opposition parties.

Takaichi on May 27 invited Rengo officials including General Secretary Hideyuki Shimizu to LDP headquarters in Tokyo. Other key LDP members, such as Yuko Obuchi, chairperson of the LDP Party Organization and Campaign Headquarters, and Eisuke Mori, director of the LDP Labor Administration Division, also attended the meeting to hear about Rengo’s requests on employment and social security issues.

According to attendees of the meeting, Takaichi emphasized the party’s stance of indirectly assisting Rengo’s efforts by, for example, requesting the government to create legal protection systems for people who work as freelancers.

A senior LDP member who attended the meeting said, “This means if the LDP and Rengo get together, various problems can be resolved.”