LDP eyes holding presidential election in late September

The Liberal Democratic Party, the conservative opposition party in Japan, is considering its party presidential election in late September, with campaigning to begin within a couple weeks.

Confusion within the ranks of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which is expected to call a general election in the near future, has the LDP deliberating on the best dates. Right now, September 26th is looking good, with campaigning to start September 14th. The current LDP President, Sadakazu Tanigaki, has his term expiring the end of September, and party rules call for new elections to be announced a month in advance.

Originally planned for September 23rd, the LDP was forced to postpone plans after the DPJ said it would hold its own presidential election September 21st. An LDP election the same week would be overshadowed by ruling party cabinet reshuffles.

Some LDP officials aren’t happy about setting a date, because it wants to see the House of Representatives dissolved before the Diet closes September 8th. If that were to happen, a general election could be called in October, and a senior LDP official says that would send his opposition party into an immediate election mode because Tanigaki’s reelection would then be virtually assured.

“If we set the date for the presidential election,” the LDP official noted, “”Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will take it that we are not serious about our demand for dissolution.” Others say the party should work on the presidential election schedule once a no-confidence motion against Noda is submitted this week, and when they’ve determined Noda doesn’t intend on dissolving the lower house.

LDP presidential candidates are expected to include Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara, former policy chief Shigeru Ishiba, former Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the acting policy chief, Yoshimasa Hayashi. On the DPJ side, Prime Minister Noda, who heads the party, is certain to be reelected September 21st.