A leading political commentator has predicted that the new Cabinet to be launched by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori today will be short-lived, and that drastic political realignments are in the offing.
Takao Iwami, a political analyst and columnist who is a special adviser to the Mainichi Shimbun, said at the Foreign Press Center last week that he believes the new Cabinet will come to an end sometime after this month’s Group of Eight summit and before the end of the year.
Mori will likely resign over a scandal, Iwami speculated.
“It has become common sense that the political life of Prime Minister Mori will be quite short after the summit,” Iwami said, although he failed to forecast exactly when and how Mori would step down and who his replacement would be.
Iwami said many members of Mori’s Liberal Democratic Party believe the party will suffer a devastating setback in the Upper House poll next year if the LDP continues to be led by the gaffe-prone and unpopular Mori, noting moves to replace him will surely emerge later this year.
He claimed the LDP, which saw its seats drop from 267 to 233 in the Lower House election on June 25, would have suffered even greater seat losses in the poll if it did not have New Komeito as an ally.
New Komeito’s chief backer Soka Gakkai, a lay Buddhist organization boasting some 8.12 million member households, contributed to mitigating the LDP’s losses in the poll, and may have added as many as 4.5 million votes to the LDP’s share, he said.
Iwami noted the LDP has become “very precarious” these days, 45 years after it was established, and before long a drastic reorganization of the parties will happen, paving the way for the creation of a two-party system.
A scandal, possibly fueled by antagonistic politicians, would lead to Mori’s resignation, Iwami said, noting gossip-mongers have “abundant sources” of embarrassing information related to Mori.
A magazine report has alleged he was caught by police in a brothel when he was a university student, which Mori flatly denied. Mori later filed a defamation suit.
Mori was also reported to have attended wedding ceremonies with gangsters.
Iwami called former LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato a “key man” as he could start a realignment of political parties by announcing his candidacy for prime minister in today’s special Diet session to pick a new leader that Mori is expected to emerge from with his position still intact.
But Kato will refrain from such a bid, even though the Democratic Party of Japan — the main opposition force — and the Liberal Party would probably support him, Iwami said, adding that Kato’s candidacy would precipitate an “unprecedented crisis” for the LDP or a split in the party.
Iwami also said Foreign Minister Yohei Kono could emerge as Mori’s successor because he is backed by LDP Secretary General Hiromu Nonaka. Iwami said Nonaka will be the most influential figure in selecting the next LDP president, who most likely would become the prime minister.
Iwami also predicted a political shakeup initiated by outspoken Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. If Ishihara forms a new party with politicians who share his policies, it could lead to the breakup of the LDP, he said.