Veteran politician Hidenao Nakagawa ascended to the position of secretar general, or second in command, of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party despite scandals still dogging him.
Nakagawa assumed the post of chief Cabinet secretary in July 2000 under Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori but resigned that October after coming under criticism for his reported involvement in an extramarital affair and for having links with a senior member of a rightwing group.
Focus magazine publisher Shinchosha Co. has appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to compensate Nakagawa, 62, for running a story claiming he had an extramarital affair as well as links with a rightwing group.
Since then, he has held two key party posts, acting as Diet Affairs Committee chairman for three years to last October and then as LDP Policy Research Council chairman up to this month.
Before taking the chief Cabinet secretary portfolio, he held Cabinet posts heading the agencies dealing with development of Okinawa and the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, and the former Science and Technology Agency.
A graduate of Keio University, Nakagawa worked as a journalist at the Nihon Keizai Shimbun for seven years before entering politics.
He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and has been elected nine times in total.
He is a native of Tokyo, but his electoral district is in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Shoichi Nakagawa, named Monday chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, has a political stance close to that of new party President Shinzo Abe, sharing his hawkishness on North Korea and desire to revise the Constitution.
But his appointment to one of the party’s three top posts to support Abe could invite jealousy from party colleagues, as he has served in key party and Cabinet positions throughout the 5 1/2-year stint of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who steps down Tuesday, pundits say.
Nakagawa, 53, and Abe, 52, have jointly led a group of lawmakers of their generation promoting revisionist views on history education, and are also on friendly terms with each other, according to people who know Nakagawa well.
Nakagawa, like Abe, has called for economic sanctions on North Korea and a new Constitution to replace the one instituted while Japan was under U.S. Occupation.
Serving as minister of economy, trade and industry from September 2003 and then as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister from last October, Nakagawa promoted trade liberalization, taking advantage of his career as a kingmaker in farm policy.
As farm minister, however, he did not budge in rejecting U.S. pressure to lift the beef import ban imposed due to concerns over mad cow disease.
The oldest son of Ichiro Nakagawa, the late director general of the Science and Technology Agency, who killed himself in 1983, Nakagawa was first elected in that year as a House of Representatives member, succeeding his father in a Hokkaid’o district. He is serving his eighth term.
He was given his first Cabinet portfolio as farm minister in 1998 in the administration of the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.
A graduate of the University of Tokyo, Nakagawa first worked as a bank clerk.
Yuya Niwa, appointed Monday chairman of the LDP’s decision-making General Council, is a strongman on social welfare and labor affairs with close ties to the party’s ruling coalition partner, New Komeito.
Niwa is believed to have won one of the party’s top three posts under Abe for having united his faction. to support the new LDP president in the Sept. 20 leadership election.
The LDP faction he cochairs with former Secretary General Makoto Koga is the third largest and shares similar roots with the factions affiliated with Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, both of whom ran against Abe in the LDP race. Some of Niwa’s faction members had preferred Aso or Tanigaki.
Niwa, 62, has served as health and welfare minister twice, first from December 1992 to August 1993 and again from October 1999 to July 2000.
The third son of a former transport minister and a native of Ibaraki Prefecture, Niwa has been elected to the House of Representatives 10 times since 1979 from an Ibaraki district.
After graduating from Keio University, he worked as a Yomiuri Shimbun reporter and then became secretary to the late Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira before running for a Diet seat.
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