Kishida Said to Opt Out Of Early Lower House Dissolution; LDP Presidential Election Likely to Come First

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is unlikely to dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election before this fall’s Liberal Democratic Party presidential election, according to government and ruling party sources. Kishida, who is also the LDP president, is coordinating moves in this direction, and he has told his intentions to people close to him.

Given strong headwinds stirred up by LDP factions’ alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law, Kishida plans to focus for the time being on achieving a virtuous cycle in the economy and restoring confidence in politics. If he is reelected as LDP president, he intends to carefully consider the timing to dissolve the lower house.

“For now, I want to concentrate on political reforms and other pressing issues,” Kishida told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday. “I’m not thinking about anything other than achieving results in those areas,” he said.

The prime minister’s remarks indicate that he will take all possible measures to pass amendments to the Political Funds Control Law during the current Diet session, while also focusing on economic policies and various diplomatic activities, including a summit meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations. His basic plan is to not dissolve the lower house, but he will make a final decision based on the situation in the final stages of the Diet session, which can be fluid.

Kishida’s term as LDP president will end at the end of September. He had considered dissolving the lower house for a general election before the LDP presidential election, hoping that LDP victories in a general election would create momentum that would secure his reelection as party president.

The Cabinet’s approval ratings, however, have continued to languish, registering just 26% in a nationwide Yomiuri Shimbun poll in May, and the LDP has lost a series of local elections, including three lower house by-elections in April and the Shizuoka prefectural governor’s race in May.

The LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito is also against the idea of dissolving the lower house before the LDP presidential election. Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday that “the public’s distrust of politics remains deep-rooted.”

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is considering submitting a no-confidence motion against Kishida’s Cabinet during the current Diet session. If it is submitted, the ruling parties are poised to reject it.

Kishida’s strategy is to boost his administration through ensuring Japan’s escape from deflation by cutting income and other taxes and raising wages to stimulate consumption, as well as advancing the debate on constitutional reform, and to run for a second term as party president on the basis of these achievements.

However, if the low approval ratings linger beyond the summer, there may be moves within the LDP to oust Kishida to seek a new face for the election. So it is difficult to predict whether Kishida will be reelected.

If Kishida wins the presidential election, he is expected to decide on the timing of the dissolution of the House of Representatives after assessing the political situation up to October next year, when the current term of lower house members expires. Factors to be considered include the compilation of the budget for fiscal 2025 at the end of this year, and the House of Councillors election next summer.