Japan LDP leadership battle: Taro Kono playing traditional conservatism

Japan LDP leadership battle: Taro Kono playing traditional conservatism

Sawako Uchida and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

The stepping down of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga means a contested leadership battle within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Henceforth, the factional nature of LDP politics will come into play.

Unlike the nationalist angle of Sanae Takaichi or Fumio Kishida promising a fairer society, it appears that Taro Kono will be a traditional conservative leader if he wins the LDP battle. This traditional conservative appeal by Kono is different from the maverick style he is known for. However, Kono knows that to get elected he needs several important high-ranking LDP members and factions to support him.

Similar to Suga, Kono will focus on promoting the usage of digital technology to enhance regional economies and the growing role of working remotely since the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis began. Hence, Kono expressed the words of “moving Japan forward.”

Lee Jay Walker says, “In a mild tone, similar to Kishida, Kono said, “I want to create a warm society where people can lean on each other.” However, Kishida believes that the welfare state should be what is leaned on – rather than Japan putting the emphasis on family and friends.”

Kono believes that the nuclear angle is a means to an end. Henceforth, to utilize older nuclear power plants in order to stem other forms of energy that are negative for the environment. However, in the long term to phase nuclear power out.

He said, “Nuclear power usage will eventually become zero, but if we are to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and work on preventing climate change, then we must stop the use of coal and oil first, and then eventually move away from natural gas.”

In a softener to workers, Kono uttered, “The corporate sector has raised profits but that hasn’t spread to wages. I want to steer economic policy supporting individual citizens, rather than corporations.”

The feeling is that Kishida is more dynamic in terms of focusing on reforms to create a fairer society. Also, in the area of foreign policy Kishida was diplomatic in the past. However, Takaichi promises a more nationalist Japan and maintaining the economic aims of Shinzo Abe. Therefore, Kono is firmly in the middle ground and playing a more canny approach by saying little in detail apart from appealing to the conservative base.

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