Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Takashi Arimoto

【#1124】Kishida Should Complete Dissolution of LDP Factions

Takashi Arimoto / 2024.03.05 (Tue)

March 4, 2024

The governance of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been dysfunctional.

In order to make a breakthrough in a dispute between ruling and opposition parties over who to attend and whether to open the House of Representatives Political Ethics Council to look into a political fundraising party scandal, Prime Minister and LDP President Fumio Kishida had to offer his own attendance at the council. This is because LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, who is ultimately responsible for dealing with the Diet, hardly moved.

Even when Kishida decided to dissolve his Kochikai faction in response to the scandal, LDP Vice President Taro Aso and Secretary General Motegi did not dissolve their respective factions.

Lost spirit of the rule of law

“What is frightening is that factions have lost the spirit of the rule of law amid prolonged factional party politics and plunged into a nerve paralysis in which they fail to see illegal acts as illegal.

This is the essence of the most serious crisis facing politics in Japan, a nation governed by the rule of law. Any institutional reform proposal that avoids this point will only fall into hypocrisy.”

Above is a passage written by the late Gakushuin University professor Kenichi Kouyama in the Sankei Shimbun newspaper’s Seiron column on October 16, 1992. After then LDP Vice President Shin Kanemaru, who headed the largest LDP faction called Keiseikai, was forced to resign as a National Diet lawmaker for violating the Political Funds Control Act, Kouyama called for the LDP to decide to dissolve all its factions and reform itself from scratch. The situation at the time is quite similar to the current one.

In response to the 1988 Recruit insider trading and corruption scandal, the LDP compiled a political reform outline in 1989, which included an item of “determination to eliminate evils of and dissolve factions.” As indicated by the Kanemaru scandal and the current political fundraising scandal, however, the determination has been dead.

Persuade Aso and Motegi to disband factions

The LDP’s draft action plan for 2024 vows to break away from traditional factions and prevent them from being revived. At the Political Ethics Council, Kishida said, “In order to restore public confidence in politics, I would like to take leadership in reforming what should be reformed, without being bound by precedents or practices.”

If Kishida is serious about the reform, he should persuade Aso and Motegi to allow the party to make an official decision to dissolve factions at its March 17 convention. How can governance be restored at an organization where the vice president and the secretary general disobey the president?

Takashi Arimoto is a Planning Committee member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and publisher of Monthly Magazine SEIRON at the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.