Posted September. 14, 2005 07:46,
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the leader of a landslide victory by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Sundays general elections, ordered the newly-elected members of the party not to join any factions.
Many favored Koizumis decision as an attempt to change the nature of the Liberal Democratic Party by crushing factionalism, but others suspect that he might intend to build his own political group.
The next generation, which has clearly witnessed the power of Koizumi, seems to be hanging back and putting aside their dreams of post-Koizumi for a while.
Will the Full Scale Dismantling of Japanese Political Factions Begin?
Koizumi directed LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe to prevent newly-elected LDP members from joining any factions.
Thanks to political reform, the practice of leaders collecting political funds and then distributing them to its members is now hard to find, but communications regarding the schedule of the Diet still have been made through factions. This is a measure to prevent factions from recruiting new members, which will further weaken the power of factions, according to a political source.
As the election result shows, Mori`s faction, which Koizumi is from as well, has the strongest power, while Hashimotos and Horiuchi factions have became rapidly weaker since their leaders retired or were kicked out of the LDP after they voted against postal privatization bills.
The number of newly elected members of the LDP is 83. Most of them were recommended by the LDP after Koizumi-led open recruitment drives and individual interviews. Besides, their being elected is largely due to Koizumi, which makes them very faithful.
Some say that Koizumis order blocking them from joining factions could be a step toward creating a Koizumi faction later.
Next Generation Players Hang Back
In a press conference on September 12, Koizumi said that he would give aspirants for the next prime ministerial term opportunities to play an active role as much as possible, revealing his intention to introduce the new LDP lawmakers mentioned previously as potential future players in the cabinet and any potential party reshuffling.
The list of the front-runners include Yasuo Fukuda (69), the former top government spokesman, Shinzo Abe (50), LDP acting secretary-general, Taro Aso (64), public works minister, and Sadakazu Tanigaki (60), finance minister. The rightist, Abe, is expecting Koizumis favor because he is popular among the public.
But most of the politicians in the running seem to be concerned of possible adverse effects, so they remain cautious. The precedent of previous frontrunners being excluded from favor after they opposed the postal privatization bill seemed to scare these runners, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa complimented Koizumi on September 13, saying that Koizumi is an excellent leader who is well aware of what he has to do. Nakagawa expressed hope that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will stay in power after his tenure.