On the evening of Dec. 6, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe threw his first party as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction, the 95-member Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyukai.

Abe assumed the post after the faction's previous leader, Hiroyuki Hosoda, resigned to become speaker of the Lower House following the Oct. 31 general election. In his introductory remarks, Abe promised nothing but his faction’s full support for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was in attendance and heads his own 43-member faction.

Despite the smiles and toasts that night, however, tensions between Abe and Kishida appear to be on the rise as Abe seeks to strengthen his faction and influence behind the scenes. Tension reportedly rose in November after Kishida rejected Abe’s preference for the powerful LDP secretary-general post and appointed a Kishida faction member and Abe rival, Yoshimasa Hayashi, as foreign minister.