Aso Faction Defies Dissolution Trend, Reveals Weekly Secret Meetings | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Aso Faction Defies Dissolution Trend, Reveals Weekly Secret Meetings

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Mr. Aso declared a reconsideration of the operational policy and the continuation of the political organization. It is said that behind this declaration, there was an unexpected intention.

On January 25, the eight-member Moriyama faction of the LDP officially decided to dissolve the faction. On the following day, January 26, the Tanigaki Group (20 members, 11 of whom were intermingled with other factions), which had not formed a faction but had submitted its wishes when holding political fund parties and appointing cabinet and party officials, also decided to dissolve.

Since Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s (66) sudden declaration of the dissolution of the Kishida faction (46 members) on January 18, four of the six LDP factions and one group have declared their dissolution, following the Abe faction (96 members) and the Nikai faction (38 members). The remaining two factions, the Aso Faction (56 members) and the Mogi Faction (52 members), will review their management policies and continue to exist as political groups.

“The Kishida faction, Abe faction, and Nikai faction had individuals such as accountants and secretaries facing charges, and dissolving them served the purpose of settling those issues. However, the decision to dissolve the Moriyama faction, which did not have any members facing charges, was the first of its kind and has sent a significant shock through the party.” (Political correspondent)

At the same time, on the 25th, Obuchi Yuko (50), Chairperson of the Election Task Force Committee, announced her resignation from the Mogi Faction, which was accepted on the 26th. She stated her intention to resign from the Mogi Faction, saying, “I was born and raised in the ‘Heisei Kenkyukai’ and have always had affection for it, and this will never change, but with the party in a critical situation, I have decided to make a clean break.”

Obuchi is the second daughter of former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, and was regarded as the future successor of the Heisei Kenkyukai (Mogi Faction), which caused a stir within the faction.

Furthermore, on April 26, four leading Diet members, including Junichi Ishii, 66, chairman of the National Diet Committee, who was a favorite pupil of Mikio Aoki, former chief cabinet secretary (now deceased), an influential member of the Mogi faction in the House of Councilors, announced their intention to leave the faction. The Heiseiken has traditionally had a strong originality on the part of the House of Councilors, and the departures were likely to continue. If there is a string of defections, it will be a loss of centripetal force for Mogi.

With the faction’s framework shaken by the defection dominoes, Mogi decided to prevent the spread of defections by shifting the faction into a policy group.

Amid the avalanche of faction dissolutions, the Aso Faction has been united under the banner of maintaining the faction.

On the 27th, during the national political report meeting in Iizuka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Aso explicitly stated the intention to continue the faction, saying, “We will work hard to meet expectations as a policy group” and “We will further invigorate our role as a policy group.” Apart from the resignation announcement by former Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya (66), there have been no noticeable movements within the Aso faction. Young members of the Aso faction are puzzled and express the following.

“Iwaya and Prime Minister Kishida were close since their Waseda University days, eating from the same pot. They shared the experience of Kishida repeating a year twice, and both graduated together. They maintained a relationship from their student days, and even before Prime Minister Kishida took office, if they happened to meet by chance within the party or in the Diet, they would engage in conversations. Iwaya is a straightforward person, so the possibility seems low, but there is speculation about whether he might have some plans behind leaving, leveraging that connection.”

The Shikokai (Aso Faction) is a faction built by Mr. Aso in his own lifetime and maintained by his personal financial resources and cheerful personality.

“Led by the mild-mannered Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki (70), with influential figures like former Secretary-General Akira Amari (74) and Digital Minister Taro Kono (61), who each have distinctive traits, generally having a great affinity for the chairman. They are willing to go the extra mile for the chairman. However, conversely, without the chairman, there might be a lack of cohesion. While Suzuki is seen as the likely next chairman, having Aso as an honorary chairman in the background ensures unity.” “(Aso faction member)”

On the 26th, in the interim summary of the Political Reform Headquarters, proposals that the Aso faction opposed, such as “abolishing faction offices” and “dissolving faction political organizations,” were set aside. It is perceived as consideration for Mr. Aso, who has been at the core of the Kishida administration.

The aforementioned member of the Aso faction expresses the following.

“There is a tradition of gathering every Thursday at noon in the faction, where everyone eats the same meal to confirm unity. They casually discuss policies, parliamentary situations, and such topics, and the chairman cherishes that time, often smiling.

The chairman is also 83 years old, and the time is approaching to hand over the stronghold to his eldest son, Masayuki, who is 39 years old. At that time, he is expected to vacate the parliamentary office and spend time in the faction office.

If the reform headquarters concludes close faction offices, the chairman will lose his place. The anticipated weekly Thursday meetings will also be gone. Perhaps the Prime Minister is considerate not to take away the chairman’s post-retirement enjoyment (laughs).”

It is not clear whether the faction was maintained for the sake of Mr. Aso’s retirement.

The building where the Aso faction offices are located.
When I went to the floor, I found a meeting room with a Shikoukai (Aso Faction) plaque on it
  • Interview and text by Daisuke Iwasaki PHOTO Takeshi Kinugawa

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