The heirship battle has turned into a quagmire! Secret talks between Abe faction leaders after the first anniversary of his death at a fancy restaurant in Azabu, Tokyo. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The heirship battle has turned into a quagmire! Secret talks between Abe faction leaders after the first anniversary of his death at a fancy restaurant in Azabu, Tokyo.

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On July 8, a Buddhist memorial service and a private meeting were held in Tokyo to mark the first anniversary of the death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The morning memorial service was attended by Mrs. Akie Abe (61), her nephew Nobutaka Kishi (32), and other relatives, as well as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (65) and other senior LDP officials. In addition to opposition party members, including Kenta Izumi, 48, representative of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Constitutional Democratic Party, about 300 people from the business community and abductees attended the ceremony to remember the deceased.

After the Buddhist memorial service, the event was moved to a nearby hotel, where a short reception began with a ceremonial address by Prime Minister Kishida and concluded with a tearful speech by Mrs. Akie. In the afternoon, several hundred people lined up to offer flowers to the public, indicating that the nation is still recovering from the unprecedented tragedy of the terrorist attacks.

With the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks safely behind us, the focus now turns to the appointment of the chairman of the Abe faction (Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyukai), the largest faction in the LDP. Currently, Tadashi Shiotani, 73, a member of the House of Representatives, is serving as acting chairman, but a fierce battle for the top position is raging behind the scenes. A veteran secretary of the Abe faction revealed the following.

Akie, the wife of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, tearfully addresses the meeting.

The Abe faction currently consists of seven members: “The ‘five members’-Kōichi Hagiuda (59), chairman of the policy research council; Hiroshige Seko (60), secretary general of the upper house; Hirokazu Matsuno (60), chief cabinet secretary; Yasutoshi Nishimura (60), minister of economy, trade, and industry; and Takeshi Takagi (67), chairman of the Diet task force; Hirobumi Shimomura (69), deputy prime minister; and Shiotani (68), representative of the Diet. In discussions held last year to decide on a chairman, a “compromise” plan was reached to make the elder Shioya the acting chairman so as not to create a stir. Although there are some who favor Mr. Hagiuda as the new chairman, the battle for the post of Abe is intensifying.

Among the most hectic are Minister Nishimura, who has expressed a strong desire to become prime minister within the party, and Seko, secretary general of the upper house of the Diet.

In November last year, he refused to hold a meeting between the chairpersons of the ruling and opposition parties at the request of the opposition, leading to Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno’s eventual apology to the opposition. Many are whispering, “Mr. Takagi should not be in charge of the National Diet. As one might expect, Mr. Takagi is aware of this and feels that it will be difficult for him to become the top leader. He has proposed that the five of them, including Takagi himself, jointly manage the faction, and the current situation is split between those who agree with this proposal and those who want to see a new chairman.

However Among the five members, Minister Nishimura’s ambition to become the faction’s chairman is apparent, and Mr. Seko has been “behind the scenes” by holding a top-secret training session in Shizuoka with only the House of Councilors, without informing the House of Representatives. However, at the training session, the participants were ordered not to take pictures, not to use social networking services, and were even prohibited from using JR passes.

This kind of mess over the appointment of a successor also occurred immediately after the first anniversary of the death of former Prime Minister Abe, who was once the head of the faction. After a series of events including a floral tribute, the Abe faction members quickly got into their cars and headed for a luxury ryotei restaurant in Azabu (Minato Ward), which was reserved by reservation only.

As far as the FRIDAY Digital editorial office has been able to confirm, in addition to the factional leaders, the restaurant was filled with eminent members, including House of Representatives Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda (79) and former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada (64), who were enjoying a snack over chopsticks about the three factions’ future management.

A veteran secretary continued.

A veteran secretary continues, “However, no clear policy was decided. Although belonging to the Abe faction, many of the members only attended the memorial service and returned to their hometowns, and more than half of them were absent from the dinner. The younger members in particular were “reserved” and did not attend the meeting. With whispers of the dissolution of the Diet in the fall, many of the Diet members are engaged in serious activities in their hometowns on weekends, and some naturally wondered whether it was appropriate for senior Diet members to dine at a fancy ryotei restaurant on the anniversary of Mr. Abe’s death.

In fact, a member of the Abe faction who was absent from the meeting said, “I just couldn’t bring myself to hear about a heir dispute on the anniversary of Mr. Abe’s death, to whom I am indebted.

Since the battle for the chairmanship of the largest faction of the LDP will have a significant bearing on the future management of the administration, it is clear that the LDP wanted to proceed as cautiously as possible to avoid leaving any negative repercussions. The appointment of the chairman is scheduled to be discussed in earnest in the future, but the fact that the power struggle within the faction is taking place even on the anniversary of his death may have former Prime Minister Abe weeping behind the grassy knoll.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
Minister of State for Economic and Security Affairs Sanae Takaichi
Ms. Akie
Senator Mizuta Sugita
LDP Upper House Secretary-General Hiroshige Seko
Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Katsunobu Kato
Mr. Kōichi Hagiuda, Chairman of the Policy Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party
Hiroyuki Hosoda, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Former Defense Minister Tomomi Inada
Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Representative Hirofumi Shimomura
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno
National Diet Chairman Takeshi Takagi
Tadashi Shiotani, Acting Chairman of the Abe Faction
  • Photo Takeshi Kinugawa

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