Fumio Kishida, 64, has already announced his intent to run in the election, which is scheduled to kick off on Sept. 17 with voting and ballot-counting on Sept. 29. A former chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council, Kishida took to the airwaves to step up his policy messaging on Saturday.
But with Taro Kono, 58, minister in charge of administrative and regulatory reform, still making preparations to announce his candidacy, and Shigeru Ishiba, 64, former LDP secretary general, still debating whether to toss his hat into the ring, the landscape surrounding the LDP presidential election remains uncertain.
Appearing on a YTV program Saturday, Kishida said he was “quite surprised” by Suga’s decision to bow out of the election, adding that “I would like to continue moving steadily forward toward the upcoming presidential election.”
On the subject of economic measures under the coronavirus pandemic, Kishida said, “Bold fiscal spending will be necessary.” Stating that he “was not considering touching consumption tax,” Kishida indicated that the measures would be financed with deficit-covering government bonds, to avoid another consumption tax hike.
The abruptness of the incumbent prime minister’s withdrawal from the upcoming party election has triggered an unusual domino effect.
On Aug. 26, when the schedule for the election was decided, Kishida announced his intent to run in the race as a rival candidate to Suga.
Kishida had been believed to have an edge over Suga, who has been navigating choppy waters within his party. However, Suga’s decision not to seek re-election has dramatically changed the election calculus, with rumors that even more candidates could join the fray.
“If we don’t change our strategy, Kishida will not be able to make himself stand out,” said one mid-level official within the Kishida faction.
Kono evidently spent Saturday morning drumming up support, calling LDP lawmakers from the House of Representatives dormitory in Tokyo’s Akasaka district.
Suga has suggested that he would back Kono, essentially positioning Kono as a de-facto successor. However, as the vaccine czar, Kono is in charge of the current administration’s highest-priority issue.
An aide close to Kono said: “If Kono stands out too soon after Suga’s announcement, it could invite a negative impression.” For that reason, Kono will have to keep his finger on the pulse of the other party members and wait for the right moment to officially announce his candidacy.
Ishiba will likely take the weekend to weigh whether or not to run in the race. He seems to have spent time analyzing the current situation and other issues Saturday morning at the Akasaka dormitory.
Former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi, 60, also has her eye on the presidency.
Published : September 05, 2021