Abe faction to keep name following death of leader

A portrait photo of late former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot while campaigning for a parliamentary election, is placed on an altar as a mourner bows, at the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters, in Tokyo, Japan July 11, 2022.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Executives of the largest faction in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which was led by slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, agreed Tuesday to keep calling the group the Abe faction.

At a special meeting, the executives agreed to maintain their current posts without appointing a new faction leader to succeed Abe for now and have acting leaders Ryu Shionoya and Hakubun Shimomura manage the faction. The agreement is expected to be approved at a general faction meeting Thursday.

Tuesday’s meeting was attended by some 20 executives, including supreme adviser Seishiro Eto, deputy head Eriko Yamatani, top secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura and Hiroshige Seko, chairman of the faction in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the country’s parliament.

“It’s important to unite as a faction,” Shionoya told the meeting, adding that he will serve as a facilitator.

All participants supported Shionoya’s proposal “to inherit the structure created by Mr. Abe,” according to informed sources.

Abe was fatally shot on July 8 while making a stump speech in the western city of Nara.

Shimomura also called for unity after some participants voiced their wish to prevent the faction from splitting.

Asked about the possibility of reviewing the faction structure after a state funeral for Abe and a possible reshuffle of Prime Minster Fumio Kishida’s cabinet and the LDP executive team, Shionoya told reporters that “there’s a good chance of us keeping the current structure, but we might have to consider [a review] at that point.”

Executive members of the faction do not include cabinet members, such as industry minister Koichi Hagiuda and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, both of whom were close aides of Abe.

Hagiuda and others had called for the establishment of a “caretaker” panel of seven heavyweights to help manage the faction. But they dropped the idea to avoid an internal battle.

The traditionally conservative faction has over 90 members, about one-fourth of all LDP lawmakers. Therefore, its moves may affect Kishida’s handling of the government.