Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Nikai, Ishihara Factions Likely Eying Merger

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Nikai, Ishihara Factions Likely Eying Merger

Article excerpt

Speculation is rife that the Liberal Democratic Party's 34-member Nikai faction and the 14-member Ishihara faction are considering a merger.

Former Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara will join LDP General Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai's visit to China in late May, during which the faction leaders will likely discuss a possible merger, according to sources.

Ishihara was not given a ministerial post in the Cabinet reshuffle in September 2014, leaving his faction without any Cabinet members or role in party leadership. Faction members therefore have high hopes for Cabinet and party executive posts in the next reshuffle.

"With the merger, Mr. Nikai, who is influential in the party, will help us regain Cabinet posts," said a mid-career lawmaker from the faction.

Efforts to realize the merger are being led by Taku Yamasaki, top adviser of the Ishihara faction and former vice president of the party.

The possible merger would form the third-largest LDP force, with its membership outnumbering those of the Kishida and Aso factions. Nikai faction members view the potential merger favorably because its presence would be felt more strongly in the party.

Many Nikai and Ishihara faction members have maintained good ties with each other, as the factions were derived from the former Nakasone faction, led by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. …

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