LDP politicians told to toe line

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With a general election expected in two months, a jittery Liberal Democratic Party has stepped up its monitoring and criticism of members’ speeches and behavior.

Speaking after an LDP executives’ meeting Friday, party Secretary General Hiromu Nonaka criticized Katsuhiko Shirakawa, an LDP member and a critic of New Komeito, for comments at his fundraising party Tuesday. Shirakawa expressed doubt that the LDP could be successful in the next election as long as it continued its alliance with the Buddhist-backed New Komeito.

Nonaka also criticized Taku Yamasaki, who leads the fifth-largest LDP faction, for participating in a fundraising event Wednesday that was hosted by Seiji Maehara, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force.

“We (LDP senior officials) confirmed that these things will never be repeated,” Nonaka said.

Nonaka, who is known as the LDP’s back-room deal maker, added that the party will notify members that they can deliver campaign speeches or take part in events only for parties of the ruling triumvirate.

Nonaka also went on to criticize a recent magazine article that ran a list of 50 lawmakers whom it claimed were politicians that intellectuals would most like to lose their seats.

“Running such a list does not violate election laws at present, but the article includes groundless rumors, which could be libelous,” he said, adding that the LDP will discuss taking legal measures against the publisher.

Nonaka ranked second on the list following the long-hospitalized Noboru Takeshita, an LDP tycoon who has just announced that he will not be running.