Shigeru Ishiba, former secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Thursday he will reorganize the intraparty faction he effectively controls into a looser group of lawmakers.
Members of such a group are allowed to belong simultaneously to other intraparty factions. Ishiba, adviser to the faction, disclosed the reorganization at an extraordinary general meeting of the faction.
The Ishiba faction was launched in 2015 with 20 lawmakers. But the number of faction members has fallen to 12, reflecting a drop in Ishiba’s unifying power.
Ishiba concluded that it is difficult to maintain the faction as more members may leave it.
“I want to focus on thinking about policies,” Ishiba said at a news conference after the general meeting, explaining the reason for the reform.
As head of the faction, Ishiba ran but lost in the LDP leadership elections in 2018 and 2020. Looking back on his unsuccessful bids for party president and hence prime minister, he said, “They were very meaningful, but I expended a great deal of energy.”
He declined to be clear about whether he will run for the party presidency again, only saying, “I need to make efforts to respond to people’s feelings.”
While keeping its name Suigetsukai, the Ishiba-led group plans to hold periodic study meetings with members of LDP factions and nonaffiliated party lawmakers. It will also explore cooperation with Taro Kono, chairman of the party’s Public Relations Headquarters, who Ishiba supported in the LDP leadership election in September. Kono lost to Fumio Kishida, the current prime minister, in the four-way election.
The Ishiba faction started falling apart after Ishiba, overriding opposition from people close to him, ran in the party presidential election in September last year, but finished last.
He subsequently stepped down as head of the faction to take responsibility, and a number of members left the faction, including his close aide and former agriculture minister Yuji Yamamoto.
In the election for the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, in October, two members of the faction lost seats.
The faction’s revamping reduced the number of factions in the LDP to six. In the party, there is another loose group of lawmakers, named after former LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki and jointly led by lawmakers including Gen Nakatani, special adviser to the prime minister.
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