As it has for most of the postwar era, the Liberal Democratic Party is in power in Japan and its position looks secure, at least for now. But all is not peachy within the perennial ruling party, as these five recent stories illustrate:
- Allegations of bribery against two former farm ministers threaten to weaken the LDP’s largest faction and its powerful leader, writes Eric Johnston. And that’s not the only issue dogging Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai and his band within the LDP, where he seems to be going out of his way to make enemies.
- In a timely reminder of one of those issues, prosecutors on Tuesday demanded an 18-month prison term for lawmaker Anri Kawai, who has been indicted on a charge of vote-buying ahead of last year’s House of Councilors election campaign. At the Tokyo District Court, the prosecutors argued Kawai, 47, committed an “unprecedented malicious crime that jolted the foundations of democracy.”
- The approval rate for PM Suga’s Cabinet is sinking. A Jiji poll released Friday showed support fell 5.2% in December to 43.1%, down for the second straight month. The survey found that 44% of respondents said they did not support the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, higher than the 32.4% who did and the 23.6% who chose neither answer or said they did not know.
- Remember the Science Council of Japan, and the fuss after Suga refused to appoint six nominees to the organization — nominees who happened to have criticized the government in the past? An LDP project team has drawn up a draft proposal demanding that SCJ be relaunched as an organization independent of the government. The opposition, however, sees this as a tactic to distract the public from the unresolved issue of the blocked nominations.
- Sources say the LDP is giving up on compiling its own draft of how it would like to see the Constitution amended. Party members are worried that debates on the issue in the Diet could stall if the LDP pushes ahead with the issue on its own without seeking cooperation from the opposition. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan takes the issue seriously, for one, as their name would suggest.