Sunday, September 27, 2009

LDP leader election: back together again...?

Time for renovation : A picture of the 3 LDP candidates taken
at FCCJ on Friday 25th. LDP leadership election will be only the
second presidential election to be held while the party is
out of power, following the 1993 leadership race, in which
Kono's father, former lower house Speaker Yohei Kono, was
chosen. I emceed this FCCJ event with the 3 top LDP, impressed
by the strong attention from the party elders like Takeshi Noda,
13 times re-elected and 1 of the top chiefs of the election

Emceeing the event with a 130 passionate audience I felt that
the LDP kept a lot of supporters, and again came to my mind
the idea that LDP lost the last election not because of its
inner factions conflicting views but because it kept too long
time the control over the country's policy making with an
delusive inner vision while ignoring the political reality
that the world was changing and moving on. In this regard, a
page was turned August 30. More inter action between present
Japan, its neighbor and world challenges is required now.

Regarding the agenda and "the forces in presence":

The Liberal Democratic Party will choose its new party leader
on Monday to revitalize itself in the wake of its severe
defeat in the August 30th election. 3 candidates : the
former Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, 64, and two
younger LDP members, former Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro
Kono and former Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Yasutoshi
Nishimura, both 46 years old.

Tanigaki, a party heavyweight whose past portfolio includes
minister of finance and chairman of the LDP Policy Research
Council, is ahead in the race and likely to capture about
half of the 199 ballots allotted to party Diet members
,according to LDP quoted by the Kyodo agency : "I’ve been
surprised by how many people say they want to see the LDP
back in the sumo ring grappling with the DPJ," Tanigaki told
at FCCJ conference.

Tanigaki, a distinguished and mild-mannered policy expert,
appears to be increasing his support among local party
members and maintains an overall lead, Kono, quoted as being
a maverick and fiery critic of the LDP old guard and their
faction-based politics, appears to be gaining more favors
with party members as a new generation type, outspoken,
clear, with a message and a reflection of why LDP got lost at
last month election. Nishimura appears to be rivaling Kono
with regard to Diet members' votes but lags behind the other
two among local party members due partly to his low name

Kono and Nishimura tried to paint the race as a choice
between the younger and older generations, calling for a
clean break with faction-based politics, which has defined
the LDP for decades. Tanigaki, in contrast, calls for LDOP
fiefdom and generation's gap conflicts reconciliation and
unity within a party often prone to internal strife, calling
on all party members, both young and old, to come together to
forge a path toward a new LDP party.

Whoever wins the leadership race, the LDP faces the task of
reviving a party that has lost almost two-thirds of its
members in the 480-seat House of Representatives. The
crucial test for the new LDP leader will be the House of
Councillors election next summer 2010.

In the 242-seat upper house, the DPJ retains a majority with
the help of its two junior coalition partners -- the Social
Democratic Party and the People's New Party. If the LDP can
increase its presence in the chamber as the largest
opposition party and force the DPJ-led ruling coalition to
lose its majority there, it will be able to block or delay
the coalition's legislative attempts.

The immediate test for the new leadership will come Oct. 25,
when by- elections for the upper house are to be held in two
constituencies, in Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures.

One comment on LDP with Tobias Harris, an american specialist
of Japan politics who worked for a DPJ member of the upper
house of the Diet 2006-2007.

"One factor that I find worth exploring is the role played by
the LDP's virtual abandonment of bread-and-butter issues —
pensions especially — to the DPJ. The 2007 upper house
election and the 2009 general election were contested over
issues on which the DPJ's positions were overwhelmingly
favored by the voting public, insofar as the elections can be
said to have been concerned with policy. While voters may
have had their doubts about various DPJ proposals, the DPJ
managed to tell a convincing story of how LDP rule had
faltered and why "regime change" was necessary. Central to
this story is the LDP's yielding livelihood issues in the
years since the end of the bubble economy. In short, the LDP
did not have to lose, at least in the manner in which it lost
this year. A critical factor in explaining the LDP's
collapse is, I believe, a shift in how the LDP presented
itself to the public. Despite having been the party that
presided over the economic miracle and guided Japan — with
the bureaucracy, of course — to a position of global economic
prowess while maintaining social equality, by 2007 the LDP
had abandoned this legacy."

(end of comments, reports and ap, kyodo, harris news)

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