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Tuesday, Sep. 4, 2012
Tanigaki's bid to retain LDP helm looks in doubt
By MASAMI ITO
As the political temperature in Nagata-cho rises with the approach of the presidential races of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party this month, things were turning cloudy Monday for LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki after his faction boss effectively snubbed his candidacy.
Tanigaki, 67, has been at the helm of the LDP since the party was finally knocked off its throne by the DPJ in 2009. But his perceived lack of leadership and failure to force Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda into dissolving the Lower House for a snap election have triggered strong internal dissatisfaction, and a number of members, including former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 57, are eyeing his seat.
The next LDP president will have one key task: to ensure the party defeats the DPJ in the next general election and retakes control of the government.
Tanigaki himself hopes to remain at the LDP's helm, but his candidacy took a severe blow Monday as his faction boss, Makoto Koga, 72, urged him not to run. Any candidate needs the endorsement of 20 party members to run in the poll, and thus without the backing of his faction, as interpreted by Koga's rejection, Tanigaki's bid to seek a return appeared in jeopardy.
Tanigaki met with Koga Monday to seek his support in the Sept. 26 poll, but the veteran lawmaker refused, saying he wanted to give a younger member a chance. Although Koga refused to clarify the remark, it is believed he has LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara, 55, in mind.
"In the upcoming presidential election, we will be selecting the leader who will fight hard in the next Lower House general election, and I am hoping (the new leader) will be someone young who can rebuild the LDP. . . . So I told Tanigaki that I will take a chance and support a young candidate this time," Koga said.
After the meeting, Tanigaki expressed his intention to run despite Koga's rejection.
"I became the LDP president three years ago and I vowed to regain the public's trust. I want to fulfill my duties till the end," Tanigaki said. "I don't think it is ideal for factions to (control) the presidential election."