Natsuo Yamaguchi has decided to file his candidacy for the leadership election of Komeito, the junior partner in the ruling coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party, which is set for September, related officials said Thursday.
With no other prospective candidates expected to come forward, Yamaguchi is highly likely to be re-elected to a sixth term that will run through September 2020.
Attention is now focused on whether other leaders within the party, such as Secretary-General Yoshihisa Inoue, will pass the baton to younger generations.
While some believe the continued leadership of Yamaguchi and Inoue is the most plausible choice, others are concerned that the party will fail to nurture successors if no generational changes are made.
Komeito will officially accept applications from candidates on Sept. 19. A party convention for voting is scheduled for Sept. 30.
Yamaguchi will be reappointed officially as leader for a two-year term on Sept. 19 if no opponents join the race.
Yamaguchi took the helm of Komeito in September 2009, when the party and the LDP fell from power. He has served as leader since then, winning a total of four leadership elections uncontested.
Many party members are hoping for the re-election of Yamaguchi, who has established a reputation for stability and strong name recognition — both key factors the party needs for the unified local elections in spring next year and the election for the House of Councilors, the upper chamber of the Diet, in summer the same year.