Hiranuma’s kiss of death?

After nearly returning to the LDP in the waning days of the Abe cabinet, Hiranuma Takeo, holdout postal rebel and conservative stalwart, is not particularly popular among the LDP’s elders.

Recall, for example, that in January Mori Yoshiro scolded Nakagawa Shoichi for working with Mr. Hiranuma in their “True Conservative Policy Research Group,” AKA the HANA no Kai. Undoubtedly Mr. Hiranuma’s presence outside the party is noxious to LDP leaders like Mr. Mori eager to keep their divided party together, not least when he speaks of creating a new “true” conservative party.

In a move that will likely irritate the party elders, Mr. Hiranuma has endorsed Aso Taro for LDP leader. He said Friday, “If the Fukuda cabinet resigns en masse, everybody is looking to the birth of an Aso administration. Since my principles and opinions are very similar, I will work hard to realize it.”

I don’t see how Mr. Hiranuma’s endorsement helps Mr. Aso, particularly since the latter is trying to make a case for why he is the best man to reunite the LDP in the post-Fukuda era, which may be coming sooner than anticipated (and may therefore begin before the next general election). Indeed, despite Mr. Aso’s fervent courtship of Mr. Mori and other Machimura faction power brokers, I wonder whether his association with Mr. Hiranuma — and comments made during last September’s presidential election about factional politics — will once again deny him the LDP presidency, a scenario that leads me to wonder what Mr. Aso, Mr. Hiranuma, and the other conservatives will do in response.

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