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Friday, Sept. 17, 2010


The LDP's new front line

On Sept. 9, the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party chose new party executives: LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki tapped former infrastructure and transport minister Nobuteru Ishihara as secretary general, the party's No. 2 post, and former environment and defense minister Yuriko Koike as head of the party's General Council and retained former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba as head of the party's Policy Research Council.

The three are well-versed in policy matters and well-known in public because of their TV appearances. In their 50s, they also represent a younger generation of LDP lawmakers. (Mr. Tadamori Oshima, 63, was moved from secretary general to the more honorary post of vice president.) Ms. Koike is the first woman to assume a top LDP executive post.

Mr. Tanigaki, who became LDP president a year ago, has been criticized for what some say is his inability to sell the LDP to people. Through the new leadership setup, he apparently aims to improve the party's image and create the impression that the LDP is reliable in policy matters.

The new trio at the leadership lacks experience in maneuvering in the Diet and in organizing election campaigns. It is uncertain whether they can build cooperative relations with other opposition parties, although the fact that they are familiar with some lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan may help them deal with the ruling party.

The LDP faces a big problem. Overshadowed by the DPJ's presidential race in which Prime Minister Naoto Kan was re-elected leader, the LDP cannot get enough attention from people. It needs to present policy proposals that are attractive and convincing. As a party with long experience in governing, the LDP also has the responsibility of deepening Diet discussions.

Although the LDP won more seats than the DPJ in the Upper House election, it ended up behind the DPJ in the number of total votes garnered in election districts as well as in proportional representation contests. The new LDP leadership faces the difficult task of regaining people's trust.

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