The 20 endorsements Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi collected to cement his candidacy in the LDP presidential election underscore his tendency to operate outside factional lines.
Koizumi received half the required 20 signatures from the camp that supports his reform efforts — four from the faction led by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, three from the faction led by LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki and three more from the group led by former labor minister Sadatoshi Ozato.
But he also secured recommendations from the antireform camp. Mikio Aoki, Toranosuke Katayama, Eita Yashiro and Shigeru Ishiba — all from the faction lead by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto — endorsed Koizumi.
A rift in the Hashimoto faction surfaced last week when Aoki, who leads the Hashimoto faction’s Upper House members, decided to support Koizumi instead of Takao Fujii, a Hashimoto faction member who is also running.
Aoki, however, attached “conditions” to his support — that Koizumi appoint Cabinet ministers from among Diet members, emphasize the fight against deflation and help small and midsize firms.
Koizumi has not indicated whether he will heed these conditions.
Aoki has also been urging the prime minister to listen more to his dissenters within the party, many of whom have been calling for the removal of Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka, who is not a Diet member.
Takenaka has gained enemies through his efforts to reform the nation’s financial system.
Meanwhile, the faction led by Mitsuo Horiuchi, which failed to field its own candidate and decided to allow its members to vote their conscience, accounted for three of Koizumi’s required signatures.
The three remaining signatures came from lawmakers belonging to marginal LDP forces.
On the other hand, the lists of Fujii and Shizuka Kamei, another candidate, reflect their obedience to factional politics. All of Kamei’s signatures were gathered from the faction he and Takami Eto lead.
All of Fujii’s endorsements are from the Hashimoto faction, and two of those are Upper House members — Juro Saito and Iwao Matsuda. Most of the faction’s 40 other Upper House members will likely vote for Koizumi by acting in concert with Aoki.
Masahiko Komura, a candidate who heads a minor faction of 16, including himself, elicited two signatures from the group led by former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, two others from the Horiuchi faction and one from the Eto-Kamei faction.