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Cablegate: The Election Mechanics Behind Abe's Likely Win

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OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #5362/01 2621006
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191006Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6499
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 4228
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 1785
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0357
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 8118
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 7882
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 0673
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 1470
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 9210
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA PRIORITY
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/COMSOCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/TREASURY DEPT WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 005362

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON JA
SUBJECT: THE ELECTION MECHANICS BEHIND ABE'S LIKELY WIN


1. (SBU) Summary. Japan's next Prime Minister will be
chosen by an election for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Presidency. On the eve of the September 20 poll, Chief
Cabinet Secretary Abe has an insurmountable lead over his two
opponents. This message outlines the mechanics of the LDP
presidential election. Abe becomes the next LDP president
and Prime Minister if he wins over 50 percent of the 703
votes that will be cast by party supporters and Diet members.
Although highly unlikely, if Abe fails to win a simple
majority, there will be a run-off between the top two
candidates, in which only LDP Diet members will be eligible
to vote. Once elected, Abe will be eligible to serve two,
three-year terms at the pleasure of the party. End Summary.

Abe Outdistancing the Pack
--------------------------

2. (SBU) The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential
election will decide who will succeed Prime Minister Koizumi
and, on the eve of the September 20th election, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Shinzo Abe is almost certain to win. Politicians,

SIPDIS
academics and political analysts all agree that Abe has an
insurmountable lead and will soundly defeat his two
opponents, Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Finance Minister
Sadakazu Tanigaki. Newspaper polls reflect Abe's commanding
position. Polls targeting LDP Diet members and LDP
supporters (both groups will have a say in the election) show
that Abe has secured over 70 percent of the Diet members'
votes and over 56 percent of the votes from party supporters.

Election Committee Formalizes Schedule
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) In late June, the LDP formed an 11-member
Presidential Election Management Committee, which includes
one "neutral" senior politician and a representative from
each of the ten factions. Party rules dictate that the
election must take place during the 10-day window before the
expiration of Koizumi's term (September 30) and the party
must announce the election date at least 10 days before the
poll. In early July, after taking "political circumstances"
and diplomatic schedules into consideration, the Committee
decided to officially announce the election on September 8
and set the election date for September 20.

Political Allies Count
----------------------

4. (SBU) Candidates for the LDP presidency must be Diet
members and must be nominated by at least 20 LDP Diet
colleagues. The "electorate" is small; there are only 703
votes. The 403 LDP Diet members will each cast one vote. In
addition, three hundred additional votes will be cast by the
LDP's chapters in Japan's 47 prefectures. Each LDP
prefectural chapter received a minimum of three votes, with
the remaining difference divided proportionally among the 47
chapters based on the number of registered LDP members in
their prefectures (see para 9 for more detail). To be
eligible to vote, a local party member must have been
registered for the past two years and must be up-to-date on
dues. LDP Headquarters estimates the number of eligible
party members to be around 1.2 million; they expect about 1
million members to participate in the election. If a
candidate wins over 50 percent of the 703 votes (352 votes),
he will become the next LDP president and Prime Minister. If
no candidate wins a simple majority, there will be a run-off
between the top two candidates. Only the 403 LDP Diet
members, however, are eligible to vote in the run-off.

Local-level "Primary"
---------------------

5. (SBU) Each local chapter will hold a chapter-level poll

TOKYO 00005362 002 OF 003


before Election Day. The number of votes allotted by the LDP
to the chapter will then be divvied up between the candidates
on a proportional basis. For example, in Tokyo's ten-vote
district, if, hypothetically, there were a total of 100,000
eligible voters and Candidate A won 60,000 votes, Candidate B
won 30,000 and Candidate C won 10,000, then Candidate A would
get six of Tokyo's 10 votes, Candidate B would get three and
Candidate C would get one. Representatives from the
prefectural chapters will hand-carry their chapter's votes to
an LDP meeting in Tokyo. The local chapter votes and the
Diet members' votes will be tabulated at the same time.

Freedom of Choice
-----------------

6. (SBU) The vote will be conducted by secret ballot. The
breakdown of votes for each prefecture will be publicly
available after Koizumi's successor is chosen. On the other
hand, the LDP will publish a report detailing the number of
Diet member votes cast for each candidate but will not reveal
how each member voted.

Money Not an Issue
------------------

7. (SBU) In contrast to parliamentary elections, campaign
funding has played an insignificant role in the LDP
presidential election. There are no formal rules about how
much money a candidate may spend, but most candidates did not
spend much. The LDP provided each candidate with a campaign
room in Tokyo and covered their phone bills. Some of the
Diet members who endorsed a candidate seconded their
assistants to work in the campaign offices and the party
financed the nationwide candidate debates. Prefectural
chapters and support groups (koenkai) invited candidates to
speak at meetings, and covered most of the costs associated
with the visits. In fact, a veteran at LDP Headquarters told
us that candidates actively avoid spending too much on their
campaigns, lest they create the impression that they are
trying to buy a victory. In previous elections, candidates
did pay for policy pamphlets and fashion consultants, but the
majority of the costs of the election were borne by the party
infrastructure.

After the Election
------------------

8. (SBU) After the election on September 20, the Diet will
convene an extraordinary session. Prime Minister Koizumi
will open the session on September 26 and the entire Cabinet
will immediately resign en masse, compelling the Diet to
elect the next Prime Minister. With a coalition majority in
both houses, the new LDP President will be easily elected the
next premier. The Prime Minister will name the new Cabinet
that same day. There are no term limits for Japan's Prime
Minister. The LDP, however, imposes a two, three-year term
limit on its President thus effectively limiting the next
Prime Minister's tenure.

Prefectural Chapter Votes
-------------------------

9. (U) The 300 chapter votes will be divided as follows:

Hokkaido (9), Aomori (5), Iwate (5), Miyagi (5), Akita (5),
Yamagata (5), Fukushima (6), Ibaraki (11), Tochigi (5), Gunma
(7), Saitama (8), Chiba (6), Tokyo (12), Kanagawa (9),
Niigata (7), Toyama (9), Ishikawa (8), Fukui (5), Yamanashi
(4), Nagano (5), Gifu (9), Shizuoka (8), Aichi (10), Mie (5),
Shiga (5), Kyoto (6), Osaka (8), Hyogo (7), Nara (4),
Wakayama (4), Tottori (4), Shimane (6), Okayama (6),
Hiroshima (9), Yamaguchi (6), Tokushima (4), Kagawa (6),
Ehime (9), Kochi (5), Fukuoka (6), Saga (5), Nagasaki (6),

TOKYO 00005362 003 OF 003


Kumamoto (6), Oita (5), Miyazaki (5), Kagoshima (7), Okinawa
(3).
SCHIEFFER

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