Mr. Sadakazu Tanigaki, president of the Liberal Democratic Party, on Sept. 30 reshuffled some party executives as part of an effort to strengthen the No. 1 opposition party and to take power from the Democratic Party of Japan. But the path toward the party’s rejuvenation is not likely to be easy.
While the LDP leader retained Mr. Nobuteru Ishihara as secretary general and Mr. Tadamori Oshima as vice president, he appointed Mr. Toshimitsu Mogi as policy chief, Mr. Ryu Shionoya as head of the executive council, and Mr. Fumio Kishida as head of the Diet affairs committee.
In appointing new party executives, Mr. Tanigaki respected opinions of faction leaders and veteran Diet members to maintain a balance among various factions. Mr. Mogi and his predecessor, Mr. Shigeru Ishiba, are from the Nukaga faction; and Mr. Kishida and his predecessor Mr. Ichiro Aisawa are from the Koga faction. Mr. Shionoya belongs to the Machimura faction; his predecessor Ms. Yuriko Koike formerly belonged to the same faction. The retention of Mr. Ishihara and Mr. Omori reflects Mr. Tanigaki’s intention of maintaining continuity so that the LDP will be able to better contribute to the reconstruction from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
As the LDP starts sailing under new leadership, it should realize that it is not politically in good shape. In an opinion poll taken immediately after DPJ leader Yoshihiko Noda became prime minister in early September, the approval rating for the LDP was 23.6 percent, below the 27.2 percent for the DPJ.
When Mr. Naoto Kan was prime minister, the LDP enjoyed a higher approval rating than the DPJ. The poll results show that its earlier high approval rating did not so much reflect people’s trust in the LDP as Mr. Kan’s poor performance. The LDP should keep in mind that voters gave a strong “no” to it in the 2009 Lower House election, which took the DPJ to power.
Although the LDP won in the 2010 Upper House election, it has been unable to present a positive political agenda that touches voters’ hearts. The most important thing for the party is to sharpen its ability to find out what people’s needs are and form policies to meet them. Unless young talented members come to lead the party, its rejuvenation will be far off.
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