Two men and two women in a frantic race to choose the head of Japan’s ruling party


Tokyo – AFP
Four candidates, two men and two women, officially launched on Friday the election campaign to choose the head of the ruling party in Japan on September 29, which is a direct starting point for the position of prime minister.
The winner will almost certainly be named prime minister after a vote on it on October 4 in Parliament, as the country’s political life is dominated by the conservative right-wing Liberal Democratic Party.
After that, legislative elections are supposed to be held in November at the latest, which is expected to enhance the position of the new prime minister, unless there are major surprises.
The four candidates to succeed Yoshihide Suga, the current head and prime minister of the LDP, spoke one by one at the party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Friday.
Many consider the most likely candidate among them to be the 58-year-old Taro Kono, the outgoing Administrative Reform Minister who is also in charge of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19.
Kono, who is popular, stressed the “priority” that should be given to green energy sources, saying: “It is no illusion that one day we will have 100% renewable energy sources in this country,” but Kono recently softened his opposition to energy. nuclear power, and campaigning under the slogan “The Advancement of Japan”.
No instructions to vote
However, it seems that the electoral battle will be open because most of the main currents within the party have not publicly issued instructions to vote for their members, contrary to the custom.
“It’s a really open battle,” Tobias Harris, an East Asia expert at the Center for American Progress political science think-tank, said in an interview. “It’s hard to say which one has the advantage. Kono may have advantages, but he’s weak.”
The moderate Fumio Kishida, the former foreign minister (2012-2017), is considered Kono’s most dangerous rival, and he has his own current within the party.
“People are looking forward to a policy of generosity, with a leader who listens to their voices and sincerely accepts diversity of opinions,” said Kishida, 64, who pledged to work on raising wages.
As for the 60-year-old former minister, Senai Takaichi, she is a hard-line nationalist with a divisive personality, but she has the support of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who drives the threads of a strong right-wing within the party.
“The government’s supreme task is to protect the lives and property of Japanese people. To protect the sovereignty and honor” of Japan, Takaishi said.
Seiko Noda, the 61-year-old former minister who campaigned to promote gender equality and support vulnerable people, has the least support within the LDP.
“Diversity is a weapon,” she said, promising to appoint a government with equal representation if elected, and to combat Japan’s low birth rate.
absolute majority
A candidate needs an absolute majority to win the September 29 elections, and from the first round, candidates will contest 766 votes, half of which are the votes of the party’s 383 elected members of parliament, and the other half for party officials in the archipelago’s 47 provinces.
In the event that no candidate obtains more than 50% of the votes, a second round is organized that separates the final candidates on the same day, but with the participation of only 430 voters, including all deputies.
Suga assumed the position of prime minister in September 2020, replacing Shinzo Abe, who was forced to resign due to health reasons, and the 72-year-old Suga decided at the end of August not to run for office and then relinquish power at the same time.
Suga’s popularity has fallen a lot after severe criticism of his management of the health crisis in Japan and for keeping the Paralympic Games organized in Tokyo this summer, despite the opposition of the majority of Japanese public opinion to organize this event.
Soga’s short period in power revived fear of a return to political instability at the head of Japan with frequent change of governments in the country before Shinzo Abe’s second term (2012-2020), which is the longest term for a Japanese prime minister in power.
Since the end of the war, only five Japanese prime ministers have held this position for five years or more.


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