The vote to choose a new leader for the LDP is a sober affair, devoid of the pomp and ceremonies of party conventions in places like the United States and China.
But the risks are still great. The elections will determine the leadership of the world’s third largest economy, a country facing serious economic and demographic challenges as it passes its third prime minister in a year and a half of the pandemic.
The four candidates have spent the past two weeks doing their best and lobbying for support from their party ahead of today’s secret ballot, hoping to win an outright majority of 764 votes.
Half of these votes come from ordinary party members, who will meet at their local headquarters at 1 p.m. to sort support.
The other half of the party’s deputies, who will soon meet at a hotel in central Tokyo.
The results of the contest will be announced around 2:20 p.m., but if no one wins an absolute majority – which is a likely outcome – the two highest-ranked votes will advance to the second round.
Now things get interesting. In the run-off, the power to choose the winner shifts decisively to the parliamentarians. Candidates receive only 47 votes at this point, and the outcome will depend on the political maneuvering and horse-trading that took place in the days leading up to the elections as they struggled to get the support of the party’s internal factions.
The final decision will be made before 4pm, and the winner will hold a press conference shortly after.
Winning the contest would secure them the premiership, although there won’t be anything official until October 4, when parliament meets to formally choose Japan’s new leader.
The winner of the race to lead Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is fully certain to be prime minister after the general election. Unlike in previous party elections, when leaders united around one candidate, there is no clear favourite this time around. Below is a summary of the three main contenders.
The first contestants
Polls have found that the public favors Taro Kono, the ministerial minister overseeing the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in Japan, by at least two to one. His Twitter following of 2.4 million dwarves of his three competitors combined.
But in the back rooms where Japanese political decisions are made, Mr. Kono, 58, was almost unpopular. His reputation as the most outspoken non-conformist liberal Democrat and his left-leaning views on social issues put him at odds with Conservative party elders.
Many Liberal Democrat MPs consider Fumio Kishida, 64, a moderate with lukewarm support in opinion polls, the safest choice, according to lawmakers’ media statistics.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who Resigned last year due to ill health, may support Sana Takeshi60 years old and a hard-line conservative. Ms. Takaishi, who would be Japan’s first female prime minister, has strong support from the party’s right wing, but her poll numbers are low. Another woman in the leadership race, Seiko Noda, 61, has little support either from the public or from the party.
When people these days think about a predetermined election, they tend to look at it Russia or Iran or Hong Kong. But in Japan, a parliamentary democracy and the world’s third-largest economy, the same party has ruled for all but four since 1955, most expecting him to win the general. election Due by the end of November.
So on Wednesday, when the Liberal Democratic Party chooses a successor Yoshihide Suga, the unpopular prime minister and party leaderThe prime minister who will lead Japan into the new year will almost certainly be appointed.
But why, in a country with free elections, where voters have expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of Corona virus and the Olympic GamesCan the LDP remain confident of victory?
The Liberal Democrats try to be everything to everyone.
The party was founded in 1955, three years after the end of the US occupation of Japan after the war. However, the United States had a hand in its birth.
Fearing that Japan, which had a growing left-wing labor movement, might be drawn into the communist orbit, the CIA urged several rival conservative factions to band together.
“They didn’t necessarily like each other or get along together, but they were designed into one huge party,” said Nick Kapoor, associate professor of history at Rutgers University.
The New Liberal Democratic Party oversaw Japan’s rapid growth during the 1960s and 1970s, helping to solidify its power. And for decades, it has turned into a big tent, as reflected in the candidates vying for first place in the party this week.
Sana TakeshiHe is 60 years old and is a hard-line conservative. Fumio Kishida, 64, a moderate speaks of “new capitalism”. Seiko Noda, 61, supports greater rights for women and other groups. Taro Kono, 58, wants to eventually phase out the nuclear power industry.
The four candidates vying for the leadership of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party cast their votes in an election broadcast by several TV channels on Wednesday.
Yoshihide Suga, the outgoing prime minister, joined the candidates, Taro Kono, the minister overseeing Japan’s vaccine launch, Fumio Kishida, the former foreign minister, Sana Takaishi, a staunch ally of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, and Seiko Noda, a leaning parliamentarian left-wing.
Each party member of both houses of Japan’s parliament went up on stage, wrote his choice of leader on a slip of paper, and dropped his votes into a wooden box. After the votes are counted, if none of the candidates exceeds 50 percent of the votes, the ballot will be taken in a second round. The first results should be read at approximately 2:20 p.m. Wednesday.
Japan’s ruling party elections began earlier this month, when Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga He announced that he would not seek re-election.
Mr. Suga, 72, assumed the premiership after Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Resigned in August 2020 due to ill health. But Japan’s struggle with the coronavirus has left Mr. Suga totally unpopular, and his decision to step aside made a rare leader of a large and developed country to resign largely because of the pandemic.
Mr. Suga, the son of a strawberry farmer and school teacher from the country’s northern countryside, had been working behind the scenes for the Liberal Democratic Party. As a largely uncharismatic leader, he struggled to connect with the audience, often appearing uneasy as an audience-facing leader.
In many respects, the rapid rise and fall of Mr. Suga can be attributed to timing. When Mr. Abe resigned, party chiefs decided they did not want a painful leadership contest and quickly sided with Mr. Suga, the power broker and main spokesperson for Mr. Abe who was seen as resilient and willing to continue his predecessor’s policies.
But public frustration with Mr. Suga grew because Japan, which managed the epidemic well in 2020, took months to ramp up its spread. vaccination program And leave the population exhausted while continuing economic constraints. Concerns that the government was pressing ahead with the Olympics with cases rising in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures also hurt Mr. Suga’s credibility.
By early last month, Mr. Suga’s approval ratings, which were above 60 percent at the start of the year, had fallen to less than 30 percent.
With public communication difficult, Mr. Suga took the blame for the broader failures of the Japanese bureaucracy, which halted vaccinations with requirements for local clinical testing and restrictions on who can give the vaccines. But it also embodied a larger challenge facing Japan’s government.
Sheila A. said: Smith, Senior Fellow in Japan: “When you’re going through a crisis, you need an adaptive response, break all rules, get things done, and that’s a little bit harder for Japan.” Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
Like much of Asia Pacific, Japan is slowly emerging from stricter epidemic restrictions as reports of new cases and vaccinations increase. It comes as the world’s third-largest economy prepares to hold a general election by November.
The government will end state of emergency measures on Thursday amid a decline in the number of new daily infections with the Corona virus and the introduction of a vaccine that has reached nearly 60 percent of the population, hoping that the move will help revive the country’s economy.
This will be the first time since April 4 that no part of Japan is in a state of emergency.
The move was announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday, a day before the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) voted to choose a leader to succeed him. Mr. Suga said he would not extend emergency measures currently in place in 19 prefectures and would instead expire at the end of the month, as scheduled.
“Going forward, we will continue to give the highest priority to people’s lives and livelihoods,” Mr. Suga said in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
He said the government would “work to continue to achieve infection control and restore daily life.”
Japan’s daily new coronavirus cases have fallen by 73 percent in the past two weeks, to an average of 2378 per dayAccording to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. And there has been a sharp improvement in vaccine rollout in Japan, where nearly 60 percent of the entire population has been vaccinated, a rate that exceeds that of the United States and many other countries around the Pacific.
Under the state of emergency, people were urged to refrain from non-essential outings, and restaurants were told to close by 8pm and not serve alcoholic beverages. The government plans to ease these restrictions in phases.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, the government minister who is leading Japan’s response to Covid-19, said serving alcoholic beverages is allowed but that “governors will decide appropriately, according to the infection situation in the region.”