Just a couple of months ago, powerful Liberal Democratic Party faction leaders, including party Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi, were being talked about as potential successors to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

But with the political funds scandal resulting in the dissolution of four of the LDP’s six factions, they have found themselves losing momentum and power as their members start to bolt.

Motegi, who heads the LDP’s third-largest faction, appeared to be on the rise last spring when he paid a visit to Washington — a move seen as a possible challenge to Kishida’s leadership.