No Favorite to Replace Kishida as LDP Chief; Doubtful Voices in LDP Over Kishida-Led Election Campaign

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aims to boost his administration’s approval rating during the current Diet session by passing into law a bill that revises the Political Funds Control Law and by bringing about an exit from deflation before the party presidential election campaign starts.

He will carefully consider the timing of dissolving the House of Representatives after being reelected LDP president.

Kishida apparently believes the lack of a clear rival candidate means he can win the party presidential election despite his Cabinet’s low approval rating.

Many names have been floated as candidates to replace Kishida, including LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, former Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, and Minister for Digital Transformation Taro Kono. However, none of them have managed to rally large-scale support.

Past party presidential election results have demonstrated the strength of the incumbent candidate. The only exception is former Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda’s defeat to Masahiro Ohira in 1978.

However, some members of regional LDP organizations have begun publicly saying that battling it out in the election will be difficult for them with Kishida at the helm, and such voices may spread further in the future.

Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has a close relationship with Koizumi, Ishiba and Kono, reportedly told his close aides that the regional LDP organizations’ frustrations over Kishida are natural.

On Thursday night, Suga dined with Koizumi, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, former party Policy Research Council Chairperson Koichi Hagiuda and former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Ryota Takeda. They are believed to have discussed such topics as future political situation.

Some within the party are calling for a reshuffle of the Cabinet and party personnel to boost the administration’s approval rating. However, many are doubtful that Kishida would be able to make the expected personnel appointments and achieve any significant improvement to his Cabinet’s approval rating.

Even if Kishida manages to be reelected as party president, the question of when to dissolve the lower house is likely to be a vexing one.

The tenure of current lower house members will expire in October next year.