Vowing reform, Tanigaki makes bid to become LDP president


Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Sadakazu Tanigaki declared Tuesday his candidacy to become party president, vowing to reform and strengthen the former ruling party following its recent electoral drubbing.

“The LDP suffered an unprecedented defeat, (the worst) defeat since the party was established,” Tanigaki said at a news conference. “But the LDP still has a mission to perform for the people. We must rebuild the party and someone must be ready to sacrifice himself . . . or nothing will move forward.”

Tanigaki stressed that the party must adjust to an era of alternating governments. The LDP had ruled Japan almost continuously since it was founded in 1955, but the Democratic Party of Japan crushed it in the Aug. 30 Lower House election.

“The LDP cannot maintain its old system and customs based on the assumption that it will remain a perpetual ruling party,” Tanigaki said. “With a sense of urgency that a change in government power could happen, we need to wage elections with our best members. Otherwise we won’t become a political party that can endure a change in power.”

A 10-term Lower House lawmaker, Tanigaki is an LDP heavyweight who headed his own faction before merging it with that of former LDP Secretary General Makoto Koga. Tanigaki also served as finance minister under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and policy chief during the administration of Yasuo Fukuda.

Some younger and middle-ranking LDP lawmakers have objected to Tanigaki’s candidacy, saying nothing will change if he is elected. Former Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono and former Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera have expressed a desire to run as well.