LDP gloom in Kanagawa

In an article in yesterday’s Shonan edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun — as usual, not online — entitled “The governor’s expanding clout,” LDP members of the Kanagawa prefectural assembly sound despondent in the face of Governor Matsuzawa’s landslide victory Sunday, and, more significantly, the victory of DPJ and independent allies in campaigns for prefectural assembly seats — giving Matsuzawa support with which to push his agenda, outlined in detail in his manifesto.

I found the passage about LDP fortunes interesting more for what it portends for the LDP at large than for its particular significance in Kanagawa. My translation follows:

The LDP prefectural representative Kuniyoshi Kazuo said, “It is possible that we can adjust and become of the same mind, sharing political ideology and ideas.” However, in the LDP there is a growing feeling of despair that “there is a high possibility of falling to second-party status,” and a veteran LDP representative said, “Mr. Koizumi said, ‘I will destroy the LDP,’ but in his own home of Kanagawa the LDP has been destroyed.”

Looking to the July Upper House election battles in every prefecture, the LDP, feeling a pressing need to repair its organizational structure, is getting desperate. Kobayashi Yutaka, the Upper House member standing in the Kanagawa electoral district in this summer’s election, said, “The gubernatorial election differs from an election with parties [the candidates in the election last week were all officially independent]. The points at issue are also different,” but the LDP prefectural party chapter is rushing its analysis of this election’s votes.

Those two paragraphs offer a fascinating look at where the LDP is today in predominantly urban prefectures. After Koizumi’s failed attempt to convert the predominantly rural LDP into an urban party, I wonder if this gloom in Kanagawa isn’t reflected in other urban constituencies. Have urban voters across Japan reverted to their pre-2001 distrust of the LDP? If so, what consequences will that have for the LDP in July?

That said, as Kuniyoshi’s comment suggests, never underestimate the flexibility of the LDP in its pursuit of power.

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