Aso conspicuously absent from most LDP candidate posters

Kyodo News

Campaign posters usually feature big photos of candidates shaking hands with their party leaders, but the face of Prime Minister Taro Aso, the president of the Liberal Democratic Party, isn’t appearing on many this time around.

A recent Kyodo poll found that candidates running for the Lower House from districts in 14 prefectures won’t feature him on their posters.

“We know that the wind is against us, but a poster (with Aso) is the last thing we want,” said a candidate running on the LDP ticket who asked not to be named.

An LDP official in Aichi Prefecture, where torrential rains last summer caused massive floods and damaged houses in the cities of Anjo and Okazaki, said posters featuring Aso would be a tactical mistake.

“Aso’s image would remind voters of his gaffe over the floods last summer,” the official said, referring to Aso’s remark that the worst was averted because Nagoya had been spared by the deluge.

An official in the LDP’s Akita chapter said Aso’s popularity is decreasing among local-level party supporters.

“Every time Aso’s rating fell, posters (showing Aso) got defaced,” the official said.

“One of those posters was even set on fire.”

But the Democratic Party of Japan has its own skeleton in the closet. Ex-chief Ichiro Ozawa is mostly absent from DPJ posters after being embroiled in a funds scandal earlier this year.

He quit the DPJ helm after his main secretary, Takanori Okubo, was charged with accepting illicit political funding regulations from Nishimatsu Construction Co.