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thomas

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Taro Kono, the Minister for Administrative Reform and Regulatory Reform and responsible for the vaccine distribution in Japan, leads the opinion poll on succeeding PM Suga, who announced that he would not run in the upcoming party leadership election. After Shigeru Ishiba, seen as the LDP's first choice according to a Mainichi poll just two weeks ago, dropped out, Kono faces two contenders: former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fumio Kishida, and a female candidate supported by Shinzo Abe's fraction, Sanae Takaichi. Takaichi is a right-winger whose policies align with Abe's (ingeniously, her economic programme was coined "Sanaenomics").

Taro Kono, a member of Aso's fraction, has not been officially endorsed yet. Here's why:

For Taro Kono, it's his outspokenness, sense of humor and savvy presence on social media that have made him a favorite among the public and a front-runner in the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election later this month. But his unorthodox communication style is a double-edged sword and has turned the administrative reform minister into a polarizing figure among some of the Liberal Democratic Party's influential old guard. Kono, who is also in charge of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, frequently tops public opinion polls asking voters who they want to see as Japan's next prime minister. Experts say his popularity stems in no small part from his active engagement with the public on social media, especially on Twitter, where his Japanese-language account boasts 2.4 million followers. This makes Kono the most followed lawmaker on the platform in Japan, even outshining the 2.2 million followers of Shinzo Abe, who resigned as the nation's longest-serving prime minister last year. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga lags far behind with under 500,000 followers.


It is symptomatic for the detached LDP gerontocracy that the candidate who'd receive the most support from the electorate is met with fierce resistance for refusing to play along with political manoeuvering and backroom politics. Interesting days ahead.


One more thing on Mrs Takaichi. I thought I'd never say this, but I hope the next Japanese PM will NOT be a woman, at least not this one.

 

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Taro Kono, the Minister for Administrative Reform and Regulatory Reform and responsible for the vaccine distribution in Japan, leads the opinion poll on succeeding PM Suga, who announced that he would not run in the upcoming party leadership election. After Shigeru Ishiba, seen as the LDP's first choice according to a Mainichi poll just two weeks ago, dropped out, Kono faces two contenders: former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fumio Kishida, and a female candidate supported by Shinzo Abe's fraction, Sanae Takaichi. Takaichi is a right-winger whose policies align with Abe's (ingeniously, her economic programme was coined "Sanaenomics").

Taro Kono, a member of Aso's fraction, has not been officially endorsed yet. Here's why:




It is symptomatic for the detached LDP gerontocracy that the candidate who'd receive the most support from the electorate is met with fierce resistance for refusing to play along with political manoeuvering and backroom politics. Interesting days ahead.


One more thing on Mrs Takaichi. I thought I'd never say this, but I hope the next Japanese PM will NOT be a woman, at least not this one.

Idk anything about this but has there been problems with women being the PM's in the past? Or are you just talking about that particular candidate? (Help a person with a peewee brain pls😔✋) fill me up on the tea... What has she done?
 
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thomas

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Idk anything about this but has there been problems with women being the PM's in the past? Or are you just talking about that particular candidate? (Help a person with a peewee brain pls😔✋) fill me up on the tea... What has she done?

I am sorry if I was unclear. I was referring to this particular candidate who happens to be a staunch right-winger. She didn't shy away from meeting with the head of the Japanese Neonazi party:


She is also a member of the ultra-nationalist "think-tank" Nippon Kaigi.
 

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Idk anything about this but has there been problems with women being the PM's in the past? Or are you just talking about that particular candidate? (Help a person with a peewee brain pls😔✋) fill me up on the tea... What has she done?
Worldwide, there have been a fair number of national female leaders who have done well (Merkel in Germany and Ardern in NZ immediately come to mind) and my own country has had two (Thatcher, who I loathed but nobody could accuse her of incompetence, and May who did a bad job though under very difficult circumstances). And in Japan, Koike, the mayor of Tokyo, has held down the job OK. The problem with the Japanese female politicians who have been in the cabinet over the last ten years is that were picked by Abe to reflect his obnoxious nationalistic views rather than because of any competence. And some of these previous female cabinet ministers, such as Inaba for defence a few years ago, have been unremittingly awful at their jobs. I always got the impression that Abe thought "We've got to have at least a couple of women in or it will look bad, so I may as well pick ones that share my views."
 
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Meanwhile, both Ishiba and Koizumi Jr. have endorsed Taro Kono. It's going to be a tough race for Kishida.


Japan's Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi announced on Tuesday that he will back regulatory reform minister Taro Kono in the upcoming leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. "The LDP must change at a time when Japan and the world is changing due to the novel coronavirus crisis," Koizumi told a press conference at his hometown, Yokosuka in the eastern prefecture of Kanagawa. "When looking at who (among the candidates) will be able to breathe fresh air into the party, the answer is obvious," Koizumi said. The announcement by Koizumi, who is popular among the Japanese people, may sway votes from rank-and-file local members of the LDP. Kono "is unparalleled in his ability to make a breakthrough," Koizumi said.

 

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Good news. Less chance of a nutter becoming PM!
 
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thomas

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It appears that Ishiba's endorsement could backfire: last year, he severely criticised former PM Abe over his wife's involvement with Moritomo Gakuen, and many LDP delegates wouldn't touch him with a bargepole. Also, some fractions will support more than one candidate.

Interesting insights into the inner workings of the LDP:

Ishiba's support a double-edged sword for Kono in LDP election
 

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It's a very complicated situation. Another factor not mentioned in the article is that Abe (and everything he stands for) is widely disliked by the electorate, which will sway politicians in marginal seats toward the more popular Kono. And what's best for the country is way down the list of priorities in such elections.
 
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Today, the internal LDP campaigns to designate the new party president and, in extension, the next PM, have started. Yesterday, Seiko Noda, the LDP executive acting secretary-general, joined the race.

Four lawmakers have thrown their hats into the ring: Taro Kono, 58, the state minister in charge of administrative reform; Fumio Kishida, 64, a former LDP policy chief; Sanae Takaichi, 60, a former internal affairs minister; and Seiko Noda, 61, the LDP executive acting secretary-general. This is the first LDP presidential election with more than one female candidate. The vote on Sept. 29 will be determined by 766 ballots: 383 distributed to LDP prefectural chapters and the same number to LDP lawmakers. Unlike the LDP presidential election last year, all 1.1 million or so party supporters will have a chance to vote.



four-contenders.png

Photo credit: Daily Yomuri
 

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That was a very civilised ”debate” today. However, it soon became clear that the female candidates were nothing but adornment. Kono or Kishida both seem level-headed and open to reforms, so the Old Guard permitting, I foresee chances of moderate change in Japan’s political landscape.


 

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That was a very civilised ”debate” today. However, it soon became clear that the female candidates were nothing but adornment. Kono or Kishida both seem level-headed and open to reforms, so the Old Guard permitting, I foresee chances of moderate change in Japan’s political landscape.


I didn't watch the debate, but I'm curious to know what led you to conclude that the two women were 'nothing but adornment'.
 

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Because they are obviously token candidates to create an illusion of inclusivity and gender equality in politics. It was Abe who wanted to create "a society in which women shine", but not much has come of it. Mrs Takaichi enjoys the support of Abe and a few other nationalist members of the Hosoda faction. Mrs Noda hasn't been endorsed by anyone so far. Of course, the female candidates were given equal time and opportunity to expand on their policies, but it was apparent that they were considered "also-rans". My wife, who was glued to the screen for the entire debate and who obviously grasped more than I did, reached the same conclusion. She called, in particular, Takaichi's policies "quite thin".

Anyhow, the whole format of the debate was more of a presentation, with foreseeable and uncontroversial questions and predictable results.

Edit: Asahi called it "heated".

 
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I think toward the 2nd half of the debate the reporters were just pitching questions to the two male candidates. It started off with fairly equal distribution, but by then end they (press) were just focusing on the two dudes. That is what I learned from Twitter, anyway.
 

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By the way, that chart explaining internal LDP factions and their support is fascinating. The inter-party factions and their shifting influences is one thing that makes Japanese politics forever opaque to me. As much as I'd love to sink my teeth into it, it feels like it will be forever beyond my grasp.
 

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The LDP party electorate has spoken. And public opinion has been ignored: today, Kishida was elected successor of PM Suga. He will lead the LDP in the general election next November.

Though not unexpected, I can't express how disappointed I am.

Fumio Kishida, the former foreign minister who was once former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's handpicked successor, won the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election Wednesday, becoming the presumptive successor to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. With no candidates obtaining a majority in the first round, the runoff was a head-to-head race between first-place Kishida and second-place Taro Kono, the vaccine czar and No. 1 choice for prime minister in public opinion polls. In the runoff, Kishida - who garnered 256 votes in the first round (146 votes from LDP lawmakers and 110 votes from rank-and-file members) - defeated Kono by 257 votes to 170.

Although his profile has increased through party leadership bids, Kishida's name recognition is still mediocre at best, making it uncertain whether he can capture the public's imagination as LDP leader ahead of a general election slated to be held by November. Both the party and the public will be scrutinizing Kishida's aptitude as a trustworthy leader capable of maintaining a majority in the Lower House and instilling a sense of political stability at a time when the nation is wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing security threats from North Korea and China.

 

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I didn't have high hopes for any of them, but choosing the most colourless of the four candidates speaks volumes about the willingness of the LDP to embrace change in a country where so many problems have been allowed to fester. Still, at least we didn't get the neo-Nazi fangirl!
 

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Yes, it could have been worse. Deep inside, I knew that Kono Taro was too unpredictable and uncontrollable for the LDP mummies. Dull Kishida will be putty in their hands. It's a pity that the opposition is so unexciting - same old, same old for the next four years.

Time to pour another ochoko and forget. 🍶;)
 

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I've just cracked open a tinnie. Cheers!
 

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A very informative article on the result and current state of things.

 

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This may be an unpopular opinion, but Kishida strikes me as at least somewhat an improvement over Suga/Abe.
Mind you, I have no love for the LDP as a whole, and none of these candidates would be my first choice.
That said, as far as Kishida is concerned:

- He actually sounds like a human being when he talks. I feel like if nothing else, he's a PM that will actually address the people rather than robotically read from a script (Suga) or drone on in a detached tone from on high (Abe).
- He's expressed more moderate positions than the hard-line LDP:

- Kishida is seen as dovish on foreign policy and lukewarm about revising the pacifist constitution.
- During the 2021 LDP presidential race he called for Japan to strive for a new form of capitalism to reduce income disparity saying neo-liberalism and deregulation have widened economic gaps in society.
- He stated support for discussions toward allowing married Japanese couples to choose between unified single surnames or separate last names.
(pasted from Wikipedia for convenience, but I've confirmed from Japanese sources that this is generally accurate)

He also pushed for more COVID stimulus money (300,000 yen instead of 100,000) and was rebuffed by members of his own party.

Now, a lot of this may be lip service, but as far as I'm concerned, the bar with the LDP is set so low that I'll take whatever I can get. In any event, I'm willing to give him a chance, as he doesn't seem like just a hand-picked successor as Suga was with Abe.

As for the others...honestly, I don't get the love for Kono Taro. Most of the expectations that he would represent a "change" or "shakeup" in the LDP seem to come primarily from his (relatively) young age and the fact that he was/is a "rising star" in the party. His oversight of Japan's vaccine rollout was shaky at best, and he always struck me as more concerned with his image and projecting an air of competence without actually delivering results in line with his lofty talk.

Takaichi is a darling of the nationalistic right-wing types. I'm thrilled she wasn't the one chosen.

Noda would have been a fresh of fresh air as Japan's first female PM, but sadly she didn't seem to have anywhere near the backing she needed from the start.

Anyhow, while it's always somewhat depressing and demoralizing knowing that Japan's leader is (as always) selected by tortuous LDP internal politics rather than the will of the general populace, I'm at least glad to be rid of Suga and am at least curious to see what Kishida does in the role.
 

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A very informative article on the result and current state of things.

Thanks for posting this article. An excellent summary, indeed (and sorry, I have edited your post to link it directly).


As for the others...honestly, I don't get the love for Kono Taro. Most of the expectations that he would represent a "change" or "shakeup" in the LDP seem to come primarily from his (relatively) young age and the fact that he was/is a "rising star" in the party. His oversight of Japan's vaccine rollout was shaky at best, and he always struck me as more concerned with his image and projecting an air of competence without actually delivering results in line with his lofty talk.

I'm not trying to be apologetic, but I still believe that Kono - crowned the "vaccine tsar" - was meant to fail in that role. Everyone in that position would have struggled with red tape and administrative windmills. As for his bid to become PM: Kono, at least, would have represented a younger and more international Japan. Being able to communicate directly with other world leaders is a significant advantage in my book. It was painful to see a timid Suga sit in international meetings, entirely out of place and with scared eyes wide open.


Anyhow, while it's always somewhat depressing and demoralizing knowing that Japan's leader is (as always) selected by tortuous LDP internal politics rather than the will of the general populace, I'm at least glad to be rid of Suga and am at least curious to see what Kishida does in the role.

That I'm glad about, too, and that Abe and his frontrunner Takaichi won't have the chance to further their nationalist agenda for a while. I hope Kishida will stick to his words and allow further inquiry into the Moritomo Gakuen scandal...
 

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Kono, at least, would have represented a younger and more international Japan. Being able to communicate directly with other world leaders is a significant advantage in my book. It was painful to see a timid Suga sit in international meetings, entirely out of place and with scared eyes wide open.

Kono is indeed international on the surface, but his policies and track record don't necessarily strike me as remarkably progressive. I completely agree with you about Suga, who was (in my opinion) essentially a satisfactory middle-manager/enforcer for the Abe regime that was handed the keys to the country due to his loyal service only for everyone to realize he didn't actually know how to drive.

Again, this might just be me, but "international" alone is not a positive/qualifying factor in my eyes. There are many "international" Japanese types who use their experience to push back against change, and more "conservative" types who are actually more open to meaningful dialogue. If nothing else, Kishida seems like someone who can actually hold a dialogue and communicate with human words and emotions, so I'm hoping he'll be more of a statesman than Suga ever was.

(Also, this is a very personal bias, but I have it on good account that Kishida likes to drink, so I'm hopeful that he'll take more sympathetic and reasonable measures to ensure that the food and drink industry survives, as compared to the teetotaler Suga who probably doesn't care as long as his ritzy 料亭 hangouts where he mingles with the upper crust remain intact.)
 

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Haha, I am pretty sure they are all guzzlers.

Also, are you saying that Kishida is more progressive than Kono? To me, Kono seems to be more anti-establishment than Kishida and willing to lock horns with the LDP gerontocracy. That alone was reason enough for me to be hopeful. Kishida won the race because the dark forces (3As) conspired in the backroom:

Fumio Kishida's fairly smooth path to victory in the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election was paved largely through behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the so-called 3A—Shinzo Abe, Taro Aso and Akira Amari. Former Prime Minister Abe in particular worked hard to ensure that Taro Kono, the state minister in charge of administrative reform, did not win the race because of major policy differences. Finance Minister Aso had been placed in a bind because he has long been a close ally of Abe, but Kono is a member of the Aso faction. However, Aso found it easier to provide only lukewarm support for his faction member after Shigeru Ishiba, a former LDP secretary-general, announced he was supporting Kono in the LDP election.


Ouch. o_O ⬇️

 

bentenmusume

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Yeah, I'm already reconsidering my initial evaluation upon seeing Kishida's depressing cabinet choices.
I had a bit of hope for him knowing that he butted heads with Nikai and Abe back in the day, but it seems if anything this time he's sold out to the Aso/Nikai faction in exchange for votes.

And to clarify, I never explicitly thought Kishida was particularly progressive or objectively more progressive than Kono, just that I was never fully impressed with Kono's "progressive" "reformer" "maverick" status, which seemed to be based more on image and superficial qualities rather than any genuinely progressive track record.

Anyhow, this whole depressing ordeal just sadly confirms to me that the LDP is devoid of inspiring young leadership. At least I can be content that here on the local level in 武蔵野市 we have a young and fairly progressive female mayor enacting policies that genuinely benefit the average citizen.
 
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