A Refreshingly Competitive Leadership Race for Japan’s Ruling Party

Candidates in the LDP leadership election-from left, Kono Taro, Kishida Fumio, Takaichi Sanae and Noda Seiko-pose before a debate hosted by the Japan National Press Club, in Tokyo, Sept. 18, 2021 (AP pool photo by Eugene Hoshiko).
Candidates in the LDP leadership election-from left, Kono Taro, Kishida Fumio, Takaichi Sanae and Noda Seiko-pose before a debate hosted by the Japan National Press Club, in Tokyo, Sept. 18, 2021 (AP pool photo by Eugene Hoshiko).

Leadership elections in Japan’s long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party are generally predictable, even dull affairs. The head of the LDP is chosen through a nominally democratic process, but the real action traditionally unfolds behind closed doors, with factional bosses picking their favored candidate well in advance of the vote. Once a candidate gains a critical mass of support, the rest of the party tends to fall in line in a kind of bandwagon effect, lest they miss out on any of the political benefits that come with having bet on the winning horse.  In a refreshing change of pace, however, the […]

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