LDP eyes early re-election of Hashimoto

In the wake of a succession of political victories for Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, some key members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have begun to suggest that the LDP bend party rules and hand Hashimoto an early assurance of re-election as LDP president. Hashimoto’s term ends at the close of September, and he must at that time go through an LDP presidential election to keep his job. If he is is retained, the party’s secretary general, Koichi Kato, is also likely to keep his position.

Yoshiro Mori, head of the LDP General Affairs Council, told reporters May 30 that a great majority of the party’s members hope to carry out planned reforms of six key areas, including administration and fiscal structure, under Hashimoto’s lead. “The planned presidential election of our party should not hinder the smooth progress of the reforms,” Mori said.

Mori also said that it might be better for the party to agree to re-elect Hashimoto prior to the presidential election so that the prime minister can concentrate on dealing with the reforms at an extraordinary Diet session expected for the fall. Mori’s remark followed a similar comment by Hiromu Nonaka, the party’s deputy secretary general.

In the past, the LDP has often bent or changed party rules on presidential elections. In one case, former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone was given a third term, despite a ban on such a long presidency.