Sanae Takaichi, who is said to be the closest thing to becoming the first female prime minister of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is facing an uphill battle: she won the hearts of conservatives when she ran for the party’s presidency in September, but her hawkish stance has led to warnings within the party that she could become a “leading lady.
The “glass ceiling” that has prevented women from advancing their careers has been broken. Will she be able to break through this glass ceiling and reach her ultimate goal?
The “Siege of Takaichi
There is now a triangle within the government and the ruling party known as the “Siege of Takaichi. The triangle is made up of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, and the New Komeito. Although Kishida made a number of claims in the LDP presidential election in September that won the hearts and minds of conservatives, he is the chairman of the Hiroike-kai, which embraces liberals. However, he is the chairman of the Hiroike-kai, an organization that embraces liberals, and it is believed that he would not be a good match for the hawkish Takaichi.
The prime minister entrusts the management of the party to his trusted deputy, Taro Aso, and his secretary general, Shigeki, who meet frequently. The three meet frequently, sometimes including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, in a “two-plus-two” effort to keep the government and LDP in sync. However, at the first meeting of the LDP’s “New Capitalism Headquarters” held on November 25, Prime Minister Kishida, Secretary General Motegi, and former Secretary General Akira Amari were sitting on the dais, and Takaichi was not there.
A reporter from the political section of a national newspaper said.
A reporter from a national newspaper’s political section said, “New capitalism is the number one priority for Kishida. It is significant that the policy chief, who is in charge of policy, is not there. I think Kishida is thinking that he and Mogi will be able to coordinate the party’s policies.
The three men, including Mr. Aso, have one thing in common: they are chairmen of their factions. In comparison, Mr. Takaichi is a “lone wolf” who does not belong to a faction, even though he came in second in the Diet vote for the presidential election (114 votes). Although Mr. Kishida has appointed three people who contested the recent presidential election to key positions, including Taro Kono, head of the Public Relations Headquarters, and Seiko Noda, minister of state for gender equality, the assumption that they are “of a different rank from those who lead factions” (LDP veteran) has not disappeared.
Mr. Takaichi was also “left out of the loop” in the government-ruling party talks over the 100,000-yen benefit for children under the age of 18, which the New Kōmeitō Party pledged to provide in the lower house election. Mr. Takaichi raised objections, saying, “This is completely different from the LDP’s pledge,” but the benefit plan was settled at a meeting between Mr. Mogi, the party’s number two, and Mr. Keiichi Ishii, secretary general of the New Komeito. However, a meeting between Mr. Mogi, the party’s number two, and Mr. Keiichi Ishii, secretary general of the New Komeito Party, settled the benefit plan. One LDP lawmaker likened Mr. Takaichi’s current situation to a situation where he is allowed to communicate from the neck up, but not allowed to do his job by burying his body. This is what it means to be politically buried alive.
A TV reporter covering the ruling party explained.
I think Mr. Mogi is wary that Mr. Takaichi will go out of control. I think Mr. Mogi is wary of Mr. Takaichi going out of control. The Komeito Party, which calls itself the “Party of Peace,” is not a fan of Mr. Koichi, who has a strong hawkish stance on foreign and security policy.
What will happen to Mr. Takaichi, who is fading into obscurity even though he is the chairman of the policy research committee, one of the “flowery posts”? What will happen to Mr. Takaichi?
He first joined the cabinet in 2006 as minister of state for Okinawa and northern Japan in the first Abe administration, and served as minister of general affairs and chairman of the LDP policy research committee after Abe was reinstated at the end of 2012. All of his experience in key positions comes from his time as Prime Minister Abe.
In a conversation with journalist Yoshiko Sakurai in the December issue of the monthly magazine WiLL, Abe said, “The LDP was forced to fight an uphill battle in the local and supplementary elections held under the Kan administration. When I wondered what the cause was, the first thing that came to mind was the defection of the conservative base. This means that an increasing number of conservatives are questioning the liberalization of the LDP,” he said.
As a candidate for the post of prime minister representing the conservative faction, Mr. Kishida fully supported Mr. Takaichi in the election for the presidency, who has a similar view of the nation, and he is still backing him.
As Prime Minister Kishida appoints Yoshimasa Hayashi, a “pro-China” member of the House of Representatives who served as president of the Japan-China Parliamentary Friendship League, as foreign minister and corrects the cooling distance with China, Abe and other conservative politicians, who are hardliners against China, are becoming increasingly wary. Next year will mark the opening of the Beijing Olympics in February and the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. Everything depends on next year,” he said. A mid-level Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker close to Mr. Abe smiles wryly.
If Prime Minister Kishida ignores human rights issues in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and sends high-ranking government officials to the Beijing Olympics, or if President Xi Jinping and other Chinese dignitaries visit Japan as state guests, there is a possibility that the conservative faction will rise up in an effort to “get rid of Kishida” before the Upper House election next summer. Of course, Mr. Takaichi is the candidate to replace him as prime minister.
On November 21, the hashtag “#I call on Prime Minister Kishida to resign” started trending on Twitter, and many of the posters were supporters of Mr. Takaichi.
Unfortunately, victory was not achieved. Still, I will not give up. I will continue my fight without stopping.”
In the December issue of the monthly magazine WiLL, the “heroine of the conservative movement” vowed to rise again after her defeat in the presidential election.
Reporting and writing by： Kenichi Ogura
Director, Ithmose Institute
Photo: AFLO： AFLO