Garnering a whopping 87 percent of the local vote in the LDP’s presidential primaries, maverick reformer Junichiro Koizumi on Monday vowed to “destroy” forces standing against his reform agenda and launch a Cabinet free of the party’s factional shackles.
“My political life will end if I fail to form a Cabinet that reflects the voice of the people,” Koizumi told a crowd in Niigata Prefecture on the last day of his two-week campaign. “I will never give in to any pressure.
“Although the election will end tomorrow, the real fight will not end until the voice of the people destroys forces that are resisting reforms.”
His comments come as attention shifts to how the reformist Koizumi, after his landslide victory in local primaries, will form his government now that he appears certain to replace Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
A total of 141 local votes will be added to the result of today’s voting by the Liberal Democratic Party’s 346 Diet members.
With the local chapters completing primary vote counts one day before the main election, final returns showed Koizumi collected 123 votes, while Ryutaro Hashimoto garnered 15 and Shizuka Kamei 3. Taro Aso received none.
The former health minister, who has vowed to break free from the party’s traditional faction-tied allocation of key government posts, maintains he has not “promised anything to anybody on the reshuffle.”
But there seem to be at least some candidates likely to fill key party posts or Cabinet portfolios under the Koizumi leadership.
Koizumi on Monday hinted that he will invite Makiko Tanaka, who supported Koizumi during his nationwide campaign, into his Cabinet by saying: “I would like to reflect the voice of the people in politics together with Tanaka.”
Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, is likely to become the chairman of the LDP’s Executive Council, one of the three key posts of the main ruling force, according to LDP sources.
Sources also added that LDP policy chief Shizuka Kamei, who had earlier been expected to support former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto — Koizumi’s main contender — in today’s party election, is now eyeing the party’s No. 2 post as secretary general by switching to back Koizumi in today’s vote.
Koizumi’s aides, however, have voiced reluctance over the promotion of Kamei as his big spending policy is contrary to Koizumi’s fiscal reform plan.
Taku Yamasaki, former head of the LDP’s Policy Affairs Research Council and Koizumi’s old comrade, may be the front-runner to take the post as the party’s second in command, sources said.
“I expect the Diet members will hear these voices of our rank-and-file members” before casting votes Tuesday, Koizumi told reporters.
Based on expectations that the reform-minded Koizumi may herald an end to Japan’s political and economic stalemate, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index momentarily topped 14,000 Monday morning.
Former LDP Secretary General Hiromu Nonaka, an influential deal-maker behind Hashimoto, already admitted Hashimoto’s defeat on Monday, telling a gathering in Sendai that Hashimoto’s camp “must humbly accept the primary results and make efforts to have Hashimoto’s policy platform reflected under the new leader.”
Hashimoto, meanwhile, hinted that he may withdraw from the race should a runoff be held between Koizumi and him. “Whether there will be an extra inning will depend on the decision by the judge,” Hashimoto said.
Kamei’s 55-member group, the party’s third-largest faction after Hashimoto’s and Mori’s, is seeking ways to join forces with the Koizumi camp by trying to bridge the gap between the two groups over policy differences.
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