Japan’s new ruling No.2 party Motegi vows to prepare for next election


New Liberal Democratic Party General Secretary Toshimitsu Motegi attends a press conference at party headquarters in Tokyo on November 4, 2021, after taking office. (Mainichi / Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) – Toshimitsu Motegi left his post as foreign minister on Thursday and became the general secretary of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, pledging to continue the party’s reform and prepare it for the election of the House of Councilors next year.

Motegi’s appointment came after his predecessor Akira Amari resigned after his loss in a single-member constituency in Sunday’s House of Representatives election, an unprecedented humiliation for the PLD while in power, even though it was elected by proportional representation. Amari had only been in office for a month.

“An upper house election is slated for next summer, and I would like to regularly prepare for a victory,” Motegi said at his first press conference after the nomination, while noting the need to analyze why PLD candidates in some regions struggled in the last election.

He said Amari had, during his short tenure as secretary general, helped the PLD win 261 seats, a comfortable majority in the powerful lower house.

In addition to preparations for the elections, Motegi said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida asked him to prioritize work to help the country emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and carry out reforms within the party.

Kishida has said he will double as foreign minister until he chooses the new foreign minister and calls an extraordinary session of parliament next week, during which he is expected to be re-elected prime minister.

Among the candidates to succeed Motegi as foreign minister is former education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, sources familiar with the matter said.

Under the Constitution, the Cabinet must resign en masse when the first session of the Diet is called following a general election. In a special session scheduled for Wednesday, the Diet is expected to choose Kishida as prime minister, and he will then revive the Cabinet.

Marking a month since becoming prime minister, Kishida told reporters on Thursday: “Since I got the people’s mandate in the general election, I now plan to implement policies swiftly” on key issues such as the coronavirus pandemic as well as on economic and diplomatic issues. challenges.

Motegi, a former political leader of the LDP, heads one of the seven main factions within the party and backed Kishida in the party’s leadership race in September. He is also known to have close ties to former prime ministers Shinzo Abe and Taro Aso.

In Sunday’s 465-member lower house election, Motegi easily secured his seat in his constituency in Tochigi Prefecture, while Amari lost his district in Kanagawa Prefecture before successfully securing a seat through proportional representation.

In 2016, Amari resigned his post as Minister of Economic and Fiscal Policy amid allegations of corruption. Opposition lawmakers continued to criticize him for failing to provide a sufficient explanation for his role in the scandal.

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