I guess Aso Taro is too busy getting ready to win the job legally to do his best imitation of Alexander Haig.
Mr. Aso, while still probably the front runner, will have to work harder to win the position than it appeared twenty-four hours ago. Fukuda Yasuo, member of the Machimura faction, has decided to throw his hat into the ring, and with the LDP pushing back the voting date until Sept. 23th, Mr. Fukuda now has more time to round up support among the prefectural chapters while consolidating his position in the parliamentary party. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that pushing the date back benefits Mr. Fukuda at Mr. Aso’s expense.
The question I have is whether Mr. Fukuda can count on the Machimura faction completely, or whether there might be room for dissension. Mr. Mori, of course, backs Mr. Fukuda completely, and is undoubtedly thrilled at the prospect of having someone who might actually listen to him at the Kantei. Mr. Machimura, however, appeared hesitant to commit too quickly, stating that he wants to listen to the opinions of the members of his faction before making a decision.
I also think that it is important not to overlook the prefectural chapters, which are already in turmoil following the Upper House election. The costs of avoiding their input could be steep, and I suspect that the way the wind blows from the regions will influence the jockeying in Tokyo. Whether the wind will blow in favor of Mr. Fukuda remains to be seen.
In the midst of all this, the Koizumi Children have shown why they are a non-entity in the party. Short of Mr. Koizumi’s returning to the fore, they seem to have no ideas and no standard bearers — and thus no chance of influencing the direction of the LDP, especially now that Mr. Koizumi has totally nixed their efforts to draft him. Between Mr. Fukuda and Mr. Aso, they have no one to back. (Perhaps Mr. Koizumi is sitting back watching his plans to destroy the LDP come to fruition.)