LDP looks to hold presidential election on Sept. 26

Kyodo

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party is leaning toward holding its presidential election on Sept. 26 with campaigning to begin on Sept. 14, LDP sources said recently.

The leading opposition party is still facing difficulty choosing a time, however, because the ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan, is expected to call a general election soon.

Incumbent LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki’s term expires at the end of September and the party plans to finalize the schedule Friday in accordance with its rules, which require it to be set a month before a president’s term expires, the sources said.

The LDP originally planned to hold the presidential election on Sept. 23 but was forced to change plans when the DPJ decided to hold its presidential election on Sept. 21. The ensuing Cabinet reshuffle would probably take the thunder out of the LDP’s race, the sources said.

However, some LDP members have voiced concern about setting a date because that would contradict the party’s call to push for dissolving the House of Representatives before the Diet closes on Sept. 8, allowing it to pursue a general election in October.

One senior LDP official said that if the House of Representatives is dissolved before the Diet closes, the LDP would immediately go into election mode because Tanigaki’s re-election would be practically ensured.

“If we set the date for the presidential election, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will take it that we are not serious about our demand for dissolution,” he said.

Other members say the party should begin working on the presidential election schedule once a no-confidence motion against Noda is submitted on Wednesday and when they have confirmed that the prime minister will not dissolve the Lower House.

The LDP’s potential presidential candidates include Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara, former policy chief Shigeru Ishiba, former Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and acting policy chief Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Noda, who heads the DPJ, is said to be reluctant to dissolve the Lower House so soon and is certain to be re-elected on Sept. 21. He is expected to conduct a Cabinet reshuffle and replace some of his executives to gear up for the general election.