An old acquaintance, the receptionist sitting at the entrance asked the reporter,
“Have you heard anything about his condition since then?”
The reporter’s phone was filled with unconfirmed but informative information, such as “confirmed dead” and “to be announced when the stock market closes,” but when she looked at me seriously, all I could do was reply, “I don’t know anything more than what’s reported.”The normally lively place was shrouded in a heavy atmosphere. Vacant seats for staffers scattered across the country were conspicuous, while the remaining staffers looked at NHK with stunned expressions and stared into the void.
At around 11:30 today, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot during a street speech in Nara City and was taken to hospital in cardiopulmonary arrest.
This was repeatedly broadcast from the screen, but the news of Mr. Abe’s condition was not clear, and his anxiety could not be concealed. The current president is, of course, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, but Abe’s presence as LDP prime minister for a total of eight years and eight months, the longest in the party’s history, is extremely important to the party. The atmosphere at this venue was completely different from usual because of the “state of emergency” of the “leader,” so to speak.
On the afternoon of July 8, the LDP headquarters in Nagatacho, Chiyoda, Tokyo, was filled with a piercing atmosphere. The entrance, normally guarded by two police officers and two party guards, was also guarded by a large SP, who stood in front of the gate and glared at the reporters as they walked toward the entrance. The guard, a familiar face, also noted that the press pass was twisted and the photo was not suitable. It was clear that the situation was far more alarming than usual.
More than 50 members of the press were waiting at the entrance on the first floor, including reporters from foreign news agencies. When a senior party official appeared at the entrance, he was instantly surrounded and took comments.
“If it’s terrorism, it’s unforgivable. I hope he survives,” (Sanae Takaichi, policy chief)
“In democratic Japan, we absolutely cannot allow such barbaric acts to take place during an election campaign.”
The unimaginable events that occurred during the campaign revealed the uneasiness in these brave words.
On the fourth floor is the secretary general’s office, which is in charge of elections. The executives who had returned from all over the country entered the room to discuss how to respond to the situation. Shortly after 5:00 p.m., Toshimitsu Motegi, secretary general of the LDP, emerged from the room.
“I am very angry,” said Toshimitsu Mogi, the secretary general. This terrorist act is a challenge to democracy during an election period.
He did not hide his irritation. When asked by reporters about the final day of the conference, he again did not hide his frustration, speaking in a strong tone of voice.
“With a firm determination not to give in to violence, the campaign will go ahead as planned.”
At this point, most of the press remained unsure of Abe’s condition. Some reporters expressed doubt about continuing the campaign while his safety was unknown.
In fact, it was not until some time later that it was learned that Abe had already passed away at this time.
Even after his resignation, he continued to influence the management of the Kishida administration as the leader of the largest faction of 93 members. Although there will be no overt movement until the background of the incident is known, there will inevitably be a battle for the heirs of the Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyukai after Mr. Abe’s death.
As the “biggest political move” after the Upper House election, Prime Minister Kishida is likely to embark on a revision of the “10 increase, 10 decrease” policy to revise the redistricting of 140 electoral districts. In Yamaguchi Prefecture, the number of constituencies will be reduced from four to three, and former Prime Minister Abe’s 4th district will become the “new 3rd district” by incorporating part of Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi’s 3rd district. Will the Abe family, which has no successor, continue to hand over to the Hayashi family?
It is also a violent act during the speech that the SP is watching, and there is a possibility that the top police official, the Commissioner of the National Police Agency, may be considered for removal from his post. Mr. Abe’s untimely death will greatly affect the Upper House election, the Kasumigaseki district, and future political affairs.
The SPs stood there in their black suits without wiping their sweat as if they were being punished.
Interview and text by： Daisuke Iwasaki