Japan Data

Abe and Ishiba Announce Candidacy for LDP Presidency


The race for the LDP presidency is now between the incumbent Abe Shinzō and third-time challenger Ishiba Shigeru. By choosing the head of the most powerful coalition party, this contest effectively decides who will become the next prime minister of Japan, so it has garnered wide attention.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election was announced on September 7, 2018, with the incumbent Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and former Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru stepping forward as candidates. As a contest to determine the party’s president, its voting is only open to LDP party members and registered party allies, but the election essentially decides who will be the next prime minister of Japan, and as such is the subject of considerable popular and media attention. The election will take place on September 20.

The LDP was formed in November 1955. In April 1956, the first LDP presidential election was held, and Hatoyama Ichirō, prime minister at the time, was elected as its first president. LDP elections have been held 26 times so far, and Abe is the twenty-fifth person to serve in the post.

Abe’s grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, ran for president in December 1956. Although he was the top contender in the first round of votes, he failed to get the majority that would hand him the post; in the second round, he lost to runner-up Ishibashi Tanzan when third-place finisher Ishii Mitsujirō’s supporters joined forces with his to make him the party’s second president. Subsequently, though, Kishi won the presidential elections in March 1957 and January 1959.

Until today, the only two LDP presidents who did not become prime ministers have been its sixteenth president, Kōno Yōhei (the prime ministers during his July 1993–October 1995 presidency were Hosokawa Morihiro, Hata Tsutomu, and Murayama Tomiichi), and its twenty-fourth president, Tanigaki Sadakazu (the Democratic Party of Japan reigned during his time as president, September 2009–September 2012).

Below is our summary of LDP presidential contests held since the year 2000. This is Ishiba’s third candidacy. In the September 2012 election, Ishiba beat Abe’s count by more than 50 votes on the strength of ballots from local chapters of the party, but gained only a plurality; Abe won out by beating Ishiba decisively among members of the Diet in a second round. Another election was announced in September 2015, but was not held when Abe ran unopposed. This will be the first election in six years.

Amid scandals such as the faking of documents in the Ministry of Finance, questions are raised about the wisdom of keeping Abe’s cabinet, which has been in place for nearly six years since 2012. Also, while Abe would like to submit a constitutional-amendment bill to the extraordinary Diet session this autumn, Ishiba’s stance is more cautious with respect to Japan’s basic law. A great deal may be decided by this one-on-one battle between Abe and Ishiba.

LDP Presidential Elections Candidates and votes (stars indicate winners)
April 2001 Koizumi Jun’ichirō 298☆
Hashimoto Ryūtarō 155
Asō Tarō 31
Kamei Shizuka (bowed out before final vote)
September 2003 Koizumi Jun’ichirō 399☆
Kamei Shizuka 139
Fujii Takao 65
Kōmura Masahiko 54
September 2006 Abe Shinzō 464☆
Asō Tarō 136
Tanigaki Sadakazu 102
September 2007 Fukuda Yasuo 330☆
Asō Tarō 197
September 2008 Asō Tarō 351☆
Yosano Kaoru 66
Koike Yuriko 46
Ishihara Nobuteru 37
Ishiba Shigeru 25
September 2009 Tanigaki Sadakazu 300☆
Kōno Tarō 144
Nishimura Yasutoshi 54
September 2012
(Asterisks mark votes by Diet members in second round)
Abe Shinzō 141→*108☆
Ishiba Shigeru 199→*89
Ishihara Nobuteru 96
Machimura Nobutaka 34
Hayashi Yoshimasa 27
September 2018 Abe Shinzō
Ishiba Shigeru

Compiled by Nippon.com based on the LDP’s website.

The following procedures are expected to take place after the September 20 vote.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Jiji.)

Abe Shinzō LDP