Nikai’s Son Faces Off with Hiroyuki Seko in Desperate Avoidance | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Nikai’s Son Faces Off with Hiroyuki Seko in Desperate Avoidance

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Nobuyasu Nikai announces candidacy from Wakayama 2nd Constituency

Toshihiro nikai, a former secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party (85 years old), his third son and secretary, Nobuyasu Ishiba (46), announced on May 17 that he intends to run for the next House of Representatives election in the 2nd district of Wakayama. This decision has caused a commotion in the Wakayama political scene.

“Due to the revision of electoral districts, Wakayama, which had three electoral districts, will now have two. The most attention is on the new 2nd district. This is because there is a high chance of a clash between Nobuyasu Nikai and Hiroshige Seko, a former Liberal Democratic Party member of the House of Councillors who is attempting to switch to the lower house. The Wakayama LDP is in a panic due to negotiations in various places.” (National newspaper political department reporter)

In Wakayama, both Mr. Nikai, who was a faction leader, and Mr. Seko, one of the five executives of the Seiwa Kai and a key figure in the government, were caught up in a backdoor money scandal. It’s like one of the main battlegrounds of the backdoor money issue. According to sources from the Wakayama Prefecture chapter of the LDP, there was strong resentment from local residents.

“Until now, most decisions were made by the prefectural party leader, Mr. Nikai. However, because he was directly involved in the backdoor money issue this time, he couldn’t demonstrate leadership. Amidst this situation, the challenge of coordinating the election in the new 2nd district emerged. The prefectural party secretary, Mr. Naoya Yamashita, a prefectural assembly member (68), is grappling with how to handle this.”

The issues facing the Wakayama Prefecture chapter of the party are not limited to this. In the previous House of Representatives election in the 1st district, Mr. Hirofumi Mon, endorsed by the LDP, experienced a  loss against Yumi Hayashi, a member of the House of Representatives from the Japan Innovation Party (43). Plans to field Yōsuke Tsuruho, a member of the House of Councillors (57), in the 1st district for the next House of Representatives election were also considered but didn’t pan out. There’s reportedly no one among prefectural assembly members or city councilors stepping up as a candidate for the 1st district. Such concerns have been voiced within the prefectural chapter of the party. 

“The situation doesn’t look good in the 1st district. Pre-election surveys indicate a tough battle ahead. Ms. Hayashi is known for being active and visible throughout various places, understanding well how to navigate politics in Wakayama. Mr. Tsuruho also decided not to run, considering the risk of losing. Local business leaders, supporters, and the prefectural party chapter are struggling to decide what to do about the 1st district. Amidst this, there’s a growing voice suggesting that Mr. Seko, who is strong in elections, should join the election.” (The situation remains unchanged.)

Mr. Seko, recognized as a prominent figure in the Higashimuro District of Wakayama’s 2nd district, naturally hesitates to run in the distant 1st district. This feeling is acknowledged by both local political and business circles in Wakayama, as mentioned by local business figures.

“The biggest difference between Mr. Seko and Mr. Nikai is their level of contribution to the local community. Even though they both were involved in the same backdoor money scandal, the way the community perceives them differs. Mr. Seko isn’t seen as the type of politician who benefits Wakayama, and his clean image made the scandal particularly damaging. While Mr. Seko is actively making rounds and greeting people in the new 2nd district, his excuse that he hasn’t pocketed a single yen comes off as insincere, leading to a sense of disappointment locally. For the local business community to support Mr. Seko, they need a strong moral justification.”

Mr. Seko is planning to switch sides from the House of Councillors.

Some observers feel that Mr. Seko lacks sufficient awareness of the crisis unfolding within the prefecture. This sentiment is echoed by members of the business community.

“Mr. Seko has never encountered major obstacles in elections previously. There’s a feeling that he’s somewhat indifferent to the current commotion. He’s allegedly informing supporters that he’s collaborating with young officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on a book aimed at shaping new values for Japan. But some wonder if that’s where his focus should be.”

The previously mentioned officials from the Wakayama Prefecture chapter express their sorrow.

“We can’t afford to keep losing to the Innovation Party in the 1st district. The best solution for the prefectural chapter would be to field Mr. Seko in the 1st district, Mr. Nikai’s son in the 2nd district, Mr. Tsuruho from the House of Councillors, and Mr. Masatoshi Ishida (72) in the proportional representation. If Mr. Seko achieves results in the 1st district, it could pave the way for his return to the LDP.

As things stand, it will be difficult for Mr. Seko to receive support from the local business community. However, Mr. Seko insists, ‘Running in a different electoral district like the 1st is not an option.’ If this continues, instead of reclaiming the 1st district, there’s a high chance of a showdown between Mr. Seko and Mr. Nikai’s son in the 2nd district. It’s a headache.”

Now that the likelihood of conservative division has increased, what impact will the voices of Wakayama’s political and business figures have on the election?

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