Kansai turns its back on native-daughter Koike


OSAKA — Kansai supporters of the Liberal Democratic Party welcomed Monday’s election of Taro Aso as party president and called on him to work to end the gridlock in the Diet.

Aso’s victory was due in large part to the overwhelming support he received from the LDP’s prefectural chapters. Each local chapter had three votes.

In the Kansai region, the Osaka Prefecture chapter voted for Aso over Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in last year’s election and were pleased with his win Monday.

By contrast, former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike failed to land any prefectural chapter votes, despite campaigning hard for Kansai-area votes. Even though she was born and raised in Hyogo and represented a district there until she moved to Tokyo in 2005, all of her 46 votes came from Diet members.

Ending the political stalemate between the LDP and the opposition-controlled Upper House was on the minds of senior Kansai business leaders, who called on the ruling and opposition parties to stop bickering and start working together on economic reforms.

“Confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties, which leads to idle politics, must be avoided, and we call on politicians to have a sense of urgency in tackling important issues,” said Hiroshi Shimozuma, head of the Kansai Economic Federation.

“The new LDP president needs to announce what reform plans in the areas of decentralization, social welfare and tax policy will be included in an overall national strategic vision for continued economic growth,” Shimozuma said.

Kenjiro Nakano, cochairman of the Kansai Association of Corporate Executives, called on Aso to respond to the growing international economic crisis.

“A strong message supporting the continuation of economic reforms is necessary, as well as a timely policy to resist that growing economic crisis,” Nakano said.

Some Kansai chapters explained their support for Aso by noting that he has run a business in the past and is far more familiar with the problems of local economic reforms than the other candidates, especially Koike.