Kishida’s Accommodation of Komeito Irks Some in LDP; Prime Minister Determined to Hold Ruling Coalition Together

The Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has accepted requests made by Komeito and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) to revise the Political Funds Control Law during the current Diet session. This decision, made by Kishida, who is also the president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has created resentment within the party, with some members feeling that it is tantamount to "swallowing whole" the requests of other parties. However, Kishida was prompted to make the decision as he believed that the LDP's administration would not survive if it ignored the assertions of other parties during this period of adverse public opinion bedeviling the LDP. Komeito had requested the lowering of the disclosure threshold to over ¥50,000 at political fundraising parties. Many within the LDP feel that the threshold should remain at "over ¥100,000," as initially proposed by the party. This is due to concerns that young members of the party will have difficulty raising funds if the number of purchasers drops due to people’s reluctance to having their names disclosed. LDP Vice President, Taro Aso, and Secretary-General, Toshimitsu Motegi, who are both key supporters of the current administration, are at the forefront of those within the party who are dissenting. They met with Kishida at a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo, and Aso pressured Kishida, saying: “You had better not think of making concessions. Otherwise, our party won’t hold.” Despite persuasion from Aso and Motegi, Kishida remained firm in his decision to push through the revision during this Diet session. On the other hand, LDP General Council Chairman, Hiroshi Moriyama, and former Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, who have connections with Komeito, prioritize cooperating with them. Moriyama urged the prime minister to prioritize maintaining the coalition, and Suga also urged Kishida to get along, saying: “We’re in a coalition, so we have no choice but to get along with each other.” Despite some younger members of the LDP beginning to accept the idea of lowering the threshold to over ¥50,000, the party's mid-ranking legislators felt that Kishida made his decision too late, leaving the impression that the party was getting off-course. To orchestrate a broader consensus, Kishida instructed his closest aide, LDP’s Acting Secretary-General, Seiji Kihara, to negotiate with Ishin. Kihara had negotiations with Ishin deadlocked in mid-May. He contacted Takashi Endo, chairman of Ishin’s Diet Affairs Committee, and asked him to "give it another go." Although Endo warned Kihara that Ishin did not want to go back and forth bargaining, Kihara responded by saying that he understood, and consequently, the LDP accepted almost all of Ishin’s key demands. In conclusion, while some members of the LDP feel that the revision of the Political Funds Control Law is "swallowing whole” the requests of other parties, Kishida's decision is a good one given the trend of public opinion. However, some close to Aso have said they had supported the administration so far, but will now have to think twice in the future
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