Kishida fears LDP may be too relaxed ahead of Upper House elections

Less than 100 days from the start of campaigns for the election of the House of Councilors this summer, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is worried about excessive optimism spreading among members of his Liberal Democratic Party.

In his speech at an LDP convention held at a Tokyo hotel on Sunday, Kishida said, “Let’s be united to win the Upper House elections, without letting our guard down.”

The LDP leader has apparently warned party members not to get too optimistic about the victory of the LDP-led ruling coalition in the elections for the upper house of the Diet, for which the official campaign period is expected to begin on June 22 for a vote on July 10.

A senior government official noted that the ruling camp “is not likely to suffer a major defeat”, while a senior LDP official stressed, “We will definitely win”.

Their confidence in a victory reflects late progress in talks on electoral cooperation between opposition parties.

Although opposition parties have achieved some positive results in the last two Upper House elections by unifying candidates in single-seat constituencies, the Democratic Constitutional Party of Japan and the Communist Party of Japan, which are expected to be at the heart of the opposition alliance in the next elections, have not yet reached an agreement.

Now that the People’s Democratic Party has clarified its position to side with the LDP, the Japan Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, the country’s trade union umbrella organization, may find it difficult to maintain its unity as an organization. standing against the ruling camp during the election campaign because its member unions support either the CDP or the DPP.

The PLD, for its part, is not free from problems either.

The party had to fight gubernatorial elections in four prefectures last year in which several conservative candidates ran.

In Sunday’s gubernatorial race in Ishikawa Prefecture, Hiroshi Hase, a former education minister with effective support from the LDP headquarters, beat other candidates, including a former ruling party lawmaker and former mayor of Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa. Hase won only marginally as the support of the LDP’s prefectural branch was split between him and the other two LDP-linked candidates.

Previous gubernatorial elections in Gifu, Hyogo and Nagasaki were also split competitions.

Some have expressed concern that electoral battles between LDP candidates, particularly in Ishikawa, Gifu and Nagasaki, will leave resentment within the party’s regional chapters and could affect results in the three single-seat constituencies during elections to the Upper House. Ishikawa will also hold a by-election next month for the same chamber.

A PLD faction leader expressed concern about party unity in the upcoming elections, saying, “We have a bumpy road ahead of us.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, speaks at the party’s annual convention in Tokyo on Sunday. | AFP-JIJI

The ruling coalition’s electoral victory in the Upper House is not fully vindicated at this time, as it remains to be seen whether an agreement between the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito to mutually back the candidates will work. successfully, critics said.

In January, the Komeito informed its regional chapters that it would forego cross-referrals of candidates due to the LDP’s inability to meet its request for electoral cooperation late last year.

However, the Komeito abruptly closed the deal on Friday, as the LDP and DPP are rapidly closing in on each other.

Under the pact, the LDP will back Komeito candidates in five multi-seat constituencies while Komeito will decide to back LDP candidates one by one through consultation with its local bodies.

But the junior ruling coalition party, now frustrated by its importance to the decline of the LDP, has yet to brush aside doubts that the LDP would fully cooperate in Hyogo Prefectural Constituency so that a Komeito candidate could Survive an expected fierce battle there.

After being thanked by a senior LDP official for supporting Komeito in the race for governor of Ishikawa, a senior official from the Soka Gakkai, the lay Buddhist organization supporting Komeito, demanded that the LDP return the favor. Hyogo constituency.

In addition to election-related hurdles, Kishida is troubled by soaring commodity prices and the protracted COVID-19 pandemic. Food prices are also rising.

To protect the daily lives of the people, the camp in power is calling for new economic measures.

Although Kishida’s administration has increased subsidies to control pump price spikes, “if gasoline prices continue to rise, in particular, it could affect outcomes in single-member constituencies,” he said. an observer.

Predicting that petrol prices will rise further, an LDP source warned: “The atmosphere will change drastically if a seventh wave of infection hits (the country) during the Upper House elections.”

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