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Kishida’s accommodation of Komeito irritates some in LDP; Prime Minister is determined to keep the ruling coalition together


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nippon Ishin leader Nobuyuki Baba (left) and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida exchange a written agreement on political reforms in the Diet building on Friday morning.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has accepted the requests of Komeito and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), securing a narrow path to revise the Political Funds Control Law during the current parliamentary session.

Kishida, who is also chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party, was motivated by his assessment that the ruling coalition government would not survive if the LDP ignored the claims of other parties, amid the unfavorable public opinion that the LDP had in the brings confusion.

Still, his decision has caused some resentment within the LDP. Some members see it as ‘swallowing the requests of other parties’.

“We must not let the base of the LDP-Komeito coalition fall apart,” Kishida said at the prime minister’s office on Thursday evening, signaling to those around him that he would accept Komeito’s requests.

Komeito had urged the level at which to disclose the names of people buying tickets for political fundraising parties to be lowered to more than ¥50,000.

However, many within the LDP believe the threshold should be kept at “more than ¥100,000,” as the party originally proposed. This comes amid fears that younger members of the party will struggle to raise money if the number of buyers falls as people are reluctant to make their names public.

Topping the list of such dissenters are LDP Vice President Taro Aso and Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, both key supporters of the current government.

On Wednesday evening, Aso and Motegi met Kishida at a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo. Aso pressured Kishida by saying, “You better not even think about making concessions. Otherwise our party won’t last.”

Aso and Motegi tried to convince Kishida based on the need to take into account the circumstances surrounding younger members, but Kishida reiterated, “I will finish it during the current diet session anyway.”

In contrast, LDP General Council Chairman Hiroshi Moriyama and former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who have ties to Komeito, want to prioritize cooperation with Komeito.

Moriyama had lunch with Kishida on Wednesday and advised the prime minister: “You must prioritize preserving the coalition.” On Thursday, Suga also urged Kishida: “We are in a coalition, so we have no choice but to get along.”

On the other hand, some younger members of the LDP began to accept the idea of ​​lowering the threshold to more than ¥50,000, saying that given harsh public opinion, they could no longer convince voters that it was a good idea was to set the threshold at more than ¥50,000. ¥100,000.

With these circumstances in mind, Kishida decided to accept Komeito’s proposals and push them through, even though Aso tried to convince him otherwise by telephone on Thursday evening.

To build a broader consensus, Kishida instructed his close aide, LDP acting Secretary General Seiji Kihara, to negotiate with Ishin.

Kihara had stalled negotiations with Ishin in mid-May. On Wednesday evening, he called Takashi Endo, chairman of Ishin’s Diet Affairs Committee, and asked him to “try it again.”

When Endo warned Kihara, “We don’t want to go back and forth [bargaining]” Kihara replied, “I understand.” Consequently, the LDP accepted almost all of Ishin’s major demands.

Some in the government said the prime minister’s decision is a good one, given the trend in public opinion. However, some people close to Aso have said that they have supported the government so far but will have to think twice in the future.

A mid-level LDP lawmaker, who endorsed lowering the threshold to more than ¥50,000, said: “The prime minister made his decision too late, giving the impression that the party was straying off course.”

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