FOCUS: After Disarray, LDP Playing Catch-Up in Yamagata Race

Politics

Yamagata, June 28 (Jiji Press)--In this northeastern Japan constituency, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party initially planned not to field a candidate for the July 10 House of Councillors election, in order to avoid facing off against a favored opposition party.

The idea behind the strategy, contrived by some LDP executives, was that losing by default to the Democratic Party for the People in the Yamagata prefectural constituency would help dent unity among opposition forces in the election for the upper chamber of parliament.

The plan met with howls of protests from within the LDP, however, forcing the leadership to put up a first-time candidate hastily for the single-seat constituency. The LDP is now regrouping and playing catch-up in the face of a formidable competitor from the DPFP, Yasue Funayama, who is running to keep her seat in the Upper House.

On June 18, soon before official campaigning for the triennial Upper House election started, Prime Minister and LDP President Fumio Kishida delivered a speech in front of JR Yamagata Station to drum up support for the LDP candidate, former prefectural assembly member Rika Ouchi, who was standing alongside. "The LDP endorsed her with confidence and pride. I want you to propel her (to victory)," Kishida said.

Initially, the LDP leadership team, including Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi and Toshiaki Endo, chairman of the Election Strategy Committee, hoped to co-opt the DPFP, which has been leaning toward the LDP-led governing bloc, in an attempt to keep the DPFP from working with other opposition forces, including the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press