The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has decided to tighten the application of an internal rule on double election candidacy from the next House of Representatives election, upsetting some party members.
Under the rule, party members will be basically banned from running for both a constituency seat and a proportional representation seat if they lose constituency battles but secure proportional representation seats in two or more Lower House elections in a row.
The rule, which was created after the 2017 election for the all-important Lower House, includes a provision that party members can be exempted from the double candidacy restriction depending on their contributions to expanding the party’s membership, as well as the margins of their constituency defeats.
Due to the provision, “an intolerable level of complacency is seen” within the LDP, a party executive said.
In a meeting on Nov. 8, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, also president of the LDP, and Taimei Yamaguchi, head of the LDP Election Strategy Committee, agreed on the stricter application of the double candidacy rule. Suga told an aide on Monday that he will take a tough stance on the matter, according to informed sources.
Currently, 25 LDP lawmakers are subject to the double candidacy restriction, including those belonging to the party faction led by former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, who lost to Suga in the party leadership election in September.
The 25 lawmakers also include members of the factions respectively headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda. The three factions backed Suga in the leadership race.
On Sunday, Hakubun Shimomura, current chairman of the LDP policy council and a Hosoda faction member, attended a party for faction colleague Takashi Fujiwara in the city of Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture.
At the party, Shimomura called on participants to share a sense of crisis, saying that there would be no future for Fujiwara if he fails to win his Lower House constituency in the prefecture.
In the constituency, Fujiwara has been defeated by veteran politician Ichiro Ozawa, who currently belongs to the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, three times in a row, but each time has gained a proportional representation seat.
There are some other LDP lawmakers who have continued to lose to opposition heavyweights, including CDP leader Yukio Edano, but have been granted Lower House seats under the proportional representation system.
“We’re working earnestly, and (the stricter application of the double candidacy rule) could affect our morale,” a young LDP member said.
The stricter rule application “could cause an explosion of complaints,” a midcareer member said.
Party factions are seeking to have their members exempted from the double candidacy restriction.
At a news conference Monday, Nikai voiced frustration with the stricter application of the rule. “I haven’t been informed of it yet,” he said.
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