New LDP Policy Chief Kisaburo Tokai Desires Political Reform; Skills in Political and Management to be Tested During Discussions

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is expected to launch discussions in January on faction-based party management and revisions to the Political Funds Control Law amid suspicions of violations by the Abe faction and other factions. The party’s new Chairperson of the Policy Research Council, Kisaburo Tokai, will play a crucial role in steering these discussions. Tokai recently proposed creating a new outline for political reform in the Reiwa era during a meeting with key LDP figures, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. His proposal aims to revive discussions on political reform, which have been overshadowed in recent years.

Tokai’s proposal is based on a previously formulated outline for political reform in 1989, following the Recruit scandal. The original outline included rules such as requiring cabinet ministers, the party’s secretary general, and the chairpersons of certain councils to leave their intraparty factions, and to thoroughly disclose political funds. However, the outline has since been overlooked and is considered merely a formality.

Aiming to gain support for his proposal, Tokai spoke passionately at the meeting, but was met with reservations from some faction leaders, who believe the current political climate differs from that of the Recruit scandal era. Tokai’s genuine concern for political reform stems from his experience during the Recruit scandal and his involvement in a study group formed by newly elected LDP lawmakers in 1988. His firsthand experience with the heightened distrust of the political world has fueled his passion for political reform.

Despite his dedication to political reform, there are concerns about Tokai within the LDP. Some party members worry that his principled approach could make him an outsider among party executives. Former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, however, expressed optimism about Tokai’s potential to inspire meaningful debates among party executives.

As discussions on political reform progress, Tokai’s political instincts and ability to navigate differences within the party will be tested. His goal to revive discussions on political reform in the Reiwa era, coupled with his experience and passion for change, position him as a key figure in the LDP’s efforts to address issues related to party management and political fund control laws.


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