Hoping to end a power struggle in the Liberal Democratic Party, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will hold talks Friday with three influential LDP members to seek their help in key administrative reform, according to party sources.
Koizumi expects the talks with former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and two former LDP secretaries general, Hiromu Nonaka and Makoto Koga, to give him more political clout in implementing reform of the civil servant system, the sources said Saturday.
The trio are widely viewed as “resistance forces,” taking issue with Koizumi’s reform drive that could cut into their vested interests, such as highway construction.
Outlines of the civil servant system reform were approved by the Cabinet in December. But the National Personnel Authority, an agency set up to protect civil servants’ welfare and interests in return for certain restrictions on their labor rights, opposes it for weakening its functions.
According to one of his aides, Koizumi hopes to turn around his sagging public support rate by enlisting these LDP heavyweights in the reform effort.
Nonaka has been active in reform of the public servant system since assuming the chairmanship of an LDP task force on the issue established in January.
All three may seek to boost their political say in exchange for offering support to Koizumi in the hope of taking the lead in an LDP presidential election set for September and a possible election for the House of Representatives, the party sources said.
There has been speculation that Koizumi may exercise his authority to dissolve the Lower House in expectation it could work to his advantage in the LDP presidential poll.
Shizuka Kamei, former chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council, has strongly criticized Koizumi’s economic reform initiative, calling it an “indiscriminate imitation” of a U.S.-style market economy.
Hashimoto, Nonaka and Koga distance themselves from Kamei, although on Saturday Koga pointed to the possibility of fielding a candidate for the LDP presidential race.
“If we can’t obtain understanding (from Koizumi) of our image of Japan for the 21st century, we will face a need to raise our flag in the presidential race in September,” Koga said in a speech in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture.
But he added, “It’s not acceptable to allow a political tactic to drag on (Koizumi’s reform) merely by expressing opposition unilaterally. . . . What is most important is to ask the prime minister to change his policy so that we can tackle political matters in a united way.”
Koga reiterated his opposition to a dissolution of the Lower House, saying it could create “a political vacuum” in the face of serious economic and international problems.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.