Kan & Aso and others gathered at “Corona Ginza,” a secret meeting praised by former Representative Matsumoto
On November 14, the "LDP Kanagawa Ward 1 Branch Establishment General Meeting" was held in Yokohama. Suga Yoshihide, Taro Aso, Kōichi Hagiuda, Taro Kono, and others attended the meeting and praised former Representative Jun Matsumoto, who was appointed branch leader.
At 3 p.m. on November 14, the Royal Hall Yokohama, located near Yokohama’s Chinatown, was guarded by a large number of SPs and police officers.
This was because, in addition to two former prime ministers, former Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and LDP Vice President Taro Aso, three incumbent ministers, Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, and Digital Media Minister Taro Kono, Policy Research Council Chairman Kōichi Hagiuda, and six other people under SP protection had gathered.
What was held here was the “General Meeting of Jun Matsumoto’s Supporters’ Association and the General Meeting for the Establishment of the LDP’s Kanagawa Ward 1 Branch.
Jun Matsumoto, 72, a former member of the House of Representatives, was forced to leave the LDP last February after it was reported that he had been going out late at night to a club in Ginza despite the declaration of a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis. He is also a former cabinet minister, but was unsuccessful in last fall’s lower house election.
Matsumoto is known as one of Vice President Aso’s closest aides. He has also long been active in the Diet task force and has made his presence felt in Nagata-cho as a ‘Kokutai-zoku’ (National Diet member). Before last year’s general election, Mr. Aso repeatedly plotted to have him reinstated to the party, but he gave up the idea due to significant opposition from his hometown. As a result, he ran as an independent in the general election and was unsuccessful, losing by approximately 24,000 votes to the candidate of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
After losing the election, he was reinstated by the party headquarters, but this was met with an uproar when the Kanagawa Prefectural Federation issued a letter of protest. In the end, he was finally approved by the prefectural federation this year, and in October he was finally able to assume the position of branch leader. As a result, he was able to run as an official candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party for the first district of the Kanagawa Prefectural House of Representatives in the next lower house election.
The names of “Suga Yoshihide” and “Taro Aso” were lined up as the representative sponsors for the establishment of the branch. At the general meeting, which was closed to the media, former Prime Minister Kan was the first to address the meeting.
I have known Mr. Matsumoto for more than 30 years, first as a Yokohama City Councilor and then as a member of the Diet. We have supported each other through friendly rivalry since we were both aldermen. We have been “Jun-chan, Kan-chan” friends.
Looking at our current situation, the new Corona, the situation in Ukraine, and the high cost of living, we are in an extremely critical situation. In order to overcome these challenges and hand over this country to the next generation as a solid foundation, we desperately need Jun Matsumoto, our branch manager.
He must have strong feelings for Matsumoto, since they were in the same and neighboring constituencies both as Yokohama City Council members and as members of the House of Representatives. Former Prime Minister Kan, who was criticized for “reading from a prepared script” when he was prime minister, greeted the audience on this day without preparing a script.
Vice President Aso was the next to make a speech.
The Diet task force, or the so-called “National Diet Committee,” is responsible for moving the Diet. The National Diet Policy Committee must be able to talk with the opposition parties and understand the bills. Without a doubt, it is the most key position in running the Diet. There are not many people who can hold this position. Not only do you have to understand policy, but you also have to be able to socialize and negotiate. You cannot serve as a member of the National Diet unless you are able to deal with your colleagues on a regular basis, as well as with the opposition parties. In this sense, we have long relied on the personality of Jun Matsumoto, the character that he possesses, to run the Diet, but this kind of person does not come along every so often. As a result, just when he was succeeding and blossoming, unfortunately he stumbled and as you know, the whole Diet was affected. It has affected the whole parliamentary process.”
The current extraordinary session of the Diet is being managed in an unusual manner due to the poor arrangements made by LDP National Diet Committee Chairman Takeshi Takagi. He expressed his eagerness for the return of his “closest aide” to the Diet with a touch of sarcasm about the situation.
Vice President Aso’s “loss of Jun Matsumoto” seems to have spread to unexpected places. Political policy chief Hagiwada, who followed the meeting with a speech, revealed, “I think of him as Mr. Aso’s right-hand man.
Speaking of Aso’s right-hand man, Matsumoto Jun is a well-known figure in Nagatacho. There is no one in Nagata-cho who does not know him. Because Mr. Matsumoto is not here, all the troublesome consultations now fall to me. It’s really bothering me (laughs).”
Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Kato appeared after Finance Minister Suzuki, who is also a senior member of his faction, gave his opening remarks. Here, he expressed his true feelings as a minister.
I am serving as Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare for the third time, but until the second time, Mr. Matsumoto was behind me. Minister Suzuki, who just greeted me, understands social security, but the Ministry of Finance, to which he belongs, does not understand it at all. While we have to fight in such a situation, it is really sad that we do not have a strong backing.”
The next person to appear was Kono, Minister of State for Digital Affairs, a fellow Aso Faction member who was elected in the same year as Matsumoto.
I am Taro Kono, younger brother of Jun Matsumoto. Taro Aso, who was sitting there, once told me, ‘It’s all right for you to do all kinds of things, but if you don’t have someone to stop shooting when he tells you to, you’ll end up like an octopus with its strings cut. Since then, whenever Mr. Jun Matsumoto said something to me, I have been trying to stop shooting for more than 10 years.
It seems that for the time being, there is no one who can stop Minister Kono.
Although Matsumoto did not get a chance to address the audience, he was joined by a number of former cabinet members, including Eisuke Mori, Kazunori Tanaka, and Tomomi Inada, as well as Junko Mihara and Hideki Murai, an aide to the prime minister, all of whom were there to show off his popularity.
In his closing remarks, Matsumoto said, “I stood on the starting line for the next election.
I am very nervous because I am at the starting line for the next election. I am determined to make every effort to see what kind of activities I can do and how much acceptance I can gain from the public.
Former Prime Minister Kan and other cabinet members and party officials left the meeting after their speeches, but only Vice President Aso stayed to see the meeting through to the end.
Mr. Aso may not retire in the next general election. One of the reasons for this is that ‘I want to work with Jun Matsumoto again. Mr. Aso loves Mr. Matsumoto that much.
However, the environment surrounding Mr. Matsumoto remains difficult.
Mr. Matsumoto will turn 73 next April. The LDP has a ‘mandatory retirement age’ for those over 73, which means that unless the LDP is dissolved before the end of the year, Mr. Matsumoto will have no choice but to win the primary election. Even if he is approved by the LDP, it will be very difficult for him to make up the 24,000-vote difference he had in the last primary election because he is not an incumbent.
Aso’s closest aide,” who has been praised by many heavyweights, is likely to face a thorny path to a return to politics.