Abe cagey on quest to succeed Koizumi

by Reiji Yoshida

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, and I think (Koizumi) urged them to be ready” in general, Abe said.

“Without an order from heaven, I think it’d be rather difficult to become a (LDP) president and prime minister,” he added.

In Japanese, “an order from heaven” can also mean fate or an inevitable situation.

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori has argued that someone other than Abe should be the next prime minister and the LDP should save him for later races when the party’s chips are down.

Mori believes the LDP will face an uphill battle and suffer a setback in the 2007 Upper House election.

The LDP’s big win in the Sept. 11 Lower House election is also a reason for Mori to believe the LDP may face a backlash in the next major poll.

The government is looking to raise the 5 percent consumption tax but can’t attempt it until after Koizumi, who has vowed not to raise it, steps down in September.

The government is gearing up to raise the unpopular consumption tax and the party under the next administration is expected to face a strong backlash.

But in response to Mori’s remark, Koizumi urged Abe not to shun the presidential race, saying “the chance won’t come often.”

Koizumi may have been thinking about Abe’s father, the late Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe. He had been widely expected to become prime minister in 1989 but was hospitalized and died from cancer two years later.