“If it’s a one-round race, it’s Taro Kono. If it comes down to a runoff, it will be Fumio Kishida. If Kono wins, he’ll probably only be in power for three months.
For the past half month, the news media has been all about the presidential election. On a weekend in September when the lingering summer heat was severe, Naoya Imai, former secretary to the prime minister and one of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s closest aides, is said to have said this at a prestigious golf course not far from downtown Tokyo. Imai, who has been in the Prime Minister’s Office for nine years, first in the Abe administration and then in the Kan administration, gave these words a lot of weight. Imai’s words carry weight.
“In that case, the next year’s upper house election … The LDP may lose. The LDP may lose. Prime Minister Abe and his team have taken great pains to resolve the twists and turns between the lower and upper houses, but if they lose, they will be back to square one and the Diet will continue to be twisted for another six years.
Expectations for Stupid Power
Former Prime Minister Abe’s closest aides have dismissed the Kono administration as short-lived and believe that its confusion will linger and that it will not win the Upper House election. For the bureaucrats in the Kasumigaseki bureaucracy, the question of who will be the next politician is of utmost concern. In response to Imai, a career METI official said this.
“I wonder why (young) Diet members and the public do not understand the danger of Taro Kono. Many bureaucrats in the Kasumigaseki bureaucracy are most uncomfortable with politicians like Taro Kono. In their circles, they call him E (eccentric) Taro,” they call him.
Of course, there are other voices, too.
Of course, there are other voices: “Reform will not proceed if the bureaucracy follows the administration’s lead. I hope Taro Kono will at least merge the Environment Ministry and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy,” said a mid-level bureaucrat at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
However, it seems that this is a minority view.
Imai, who still refers to himself as “Prime Minister Abe,” does not want Kono as president. The strength of his loyalty is not unusual. If so, would he prefer the Koizumi administration, which is pushing for Abe?
“He must know that it is difficult to maintain a stable government with only a gung-ho conservative force. If anything, a Koichi administration would be difficult. … “I don’t know.
It is said that an unspoken rule has been established in government circles that Kono should be removed and Koichi should not speak to Abe, but rather Kishida. Despite public support, this “invisible wind of gain” is blowing around Kono.
Another “wind” is that at an opinion exchange meeting held by the party’s Kaze Isshin no Kai, Kono said about the role of the Prime Minister’s Office and the party, “Rather than squabbling in subcommittees, why don’t we form a team of vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries on an informal basis?
“Kono has always been like this, even when dealing with bureaucrats. Kono is always like this, even when dealing with bureaucrats,” said a member of the Aso faction, adding, “The Party Style Isshin no Kai must have been Kono’s important SS.
(Aso faction) Kono is supposed to be the most popular politician in Japan, but the net of encirclement is gradually being built and the outer moat is being filled in.
Kan’s growing reputation for tenacity and “real bullets
In the midst of all this, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been keeping a cool eye on the presidential election.
I want to get more than a majority of Kono’s party members’ votes at all costs,” he said. If Kono wins the party members’ vote, his administration will gain the support of the people.
And if Kono wins a majority of party members’ votes but Kishida or Takaichi are elected in a run-off election, that would be a betrayal of the will of the people. Such a government would be subject to fierce criticism.
Kan’s tenacity is not uncommon. Although he seems to have faded into obscurity with his decision not to run for office, he has been working behind the scenes. The way he has been steadily but steadily appealing for Kono’s support and increasing the number of his supporters is dedicated and uncanny. Even in the unlikely event that Kono is not elected this time, he is looking ahead to the “next time.
The race for the presidency is now in its final stages.
“The battle among the various camps to cut down Kono’s popularity has become fierce. One of the lawmakers is said to have received a phone call that could be construed as an intimidation threat, saying, ‘The LDP will fully cooperate with you when you eventually take over. It seems that ‘live ammunition’ has finally begun to fly around. Almost all of the party membership forms by mail have been posted. From here, the phase has changed to direct persuasion of the members.
The LDP presidential election is a whirlwind of power and intrigue, but I hope that it will be a “fair” election rather than a contest based on “money and power,” which is the party’s specialty.
(Titles omitted in the text)
Reporting and writing by： Shutaro Iwashiro