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'Down With Kishida' Movement Within the LDP Remains Subdued

The LDP's loss in the Shimane 1st by-election signals broader challenges. There are concerns over the Kishida leadership but a clear successor remains elusive.



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida waves to the crowd gathered for his speech in Matsue City on the afternoon of April 21. (© Sankei by Kan Emori)

In the April 28 Lower House by-elections, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost the Shimane 1st district. This loss sealed an overall defeat for the party, including uncontested losses. Concerns within the LDP about the effectiveness of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in representing the party during elections are likely to grow.

Nevertheless, the absence of prominent candidates to replace Kishida suggests a full-fledged movement to oust him may not materialize immediately.

Defeat and Leadership Dilemma

The defeat in the Shimane 1st district underscores the severity of the headwinds caused by the slush fund scandal involving LDP factions. Before the by-election, the LDP had never lost a seat in the district. However, on April 28, a member of the LDP administration commented on the situation. "We understood from the beginning that it would be a tough battle," they said. "There is no talk of the prime minister resigning."

Cabinet approval ratings continue to decline. Yet the administration is not pushing for a Diet dissolution before June 23, the end of the current session. 

Several senior LDP members and lawmakers recently spoke to Kishida and his inner circle about the issue. They told the Prime Minister, "There is a chance to win the party leadership election without dissolving the Diet." One senior party member commented, "There's no one else but Kishida."

Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga responds to media questions after the first meeting of the LDP's Headquarters for Political Reform in January, party headquarters in Nagatacho, Tokyo. (© Sankei by Ataru Haruna)

Dearth of Suitable Candidates

Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is the key figure among the "anti-establishment" faction opposing Kishida. Suga backed Taro Kono, the Minister for Digital Transformation, who came in second in the previous party leadership election. However, Suga, known for advocating factional dissolution, is reportedly dissatisfied with Kono's ongoing affiliation with the Aso faction. 

Kono himself recently faced a setback due to the discovery of a Chinese state-owned company's logo on government energy-related meeting documents. 

Suga's inner circle is discussing former Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato as potential candidates. However, they have yet to take any decisive action.


Sanae Takaichi, the Minister of Economic Security, placed third in the previous leadership election. Following the assassination of her backer, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, she now faces tougher odds.

One key anti-establishment figure argued that "internal power struggles to topple Kishida would be detrimental to the entire party. It's better to wait until September and compete decisively in the leadership election." 

With growing speculation about a post-leadership election dissolution, the prevailing sentiment seems to be, "no need to act right now."


(Read the article in Japanese).

Author: Issei Tanaka, staff writer, The Sankei Shimbun