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Chapter Twenty-Four
Period of President Tanigaki's Leadership

The LDP held a presidential election on September 28, 2009 to choose a successor to the recently resigned President Taro Aso. Three candidates ran for the presidency: Yasunori Nishimura, former Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Taro Kono, former Vice Minister for Justice, and Sadakazu Tanigaki, former Finance Minister. They pledged to work for the good of the Party which was no longer the ruling Party.

In the election, Tanigaki secured 300 votes (Diet members ballots 120, Party members ballots 180), Kono 144 votes (Diet members ballots 35, Party members ballots 109), and Nishimura 54 votes (Diet members ballots 43, Party members ballots 11). Sadakazu Tanigaki's 60% allowed him to become the 24th Party President.

The new president Tanigaki declared his determination to lead and rebuild the Party with every effort and recapture the government, saying “we must return to the underlying principle of our Party; that is, politics belongs to the nation, and we must debate what the Liberal Democratic Party can do for the nation. Then we must appeal our belief to the nation. Time is up: Party reform is a must.”

At his first press conference after assuming the office of president of the Liberal Democratic Party, he stated that LDP would pursue the principles of a conservative party. He said that in reviewing the election result the LDP realized they had failed to respond to the needs of the people enough. He expressed his intention to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan as soon as possible to listen to people's opinions. Needless to say, the primary responsibility of politicians is to take into account the views of the nation and then craft concrete measures to respond to them. For President Tanigaki, this was the driving force of the fresh start.

The next day, 29th, he appointed the following Party executives: Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, Chairman of the General Council Tanose Ryotaro, and Chairman of the Policy Research Council Shigeru Ishiba. They are veteran politicians and would provide a powerful base for the rebuilding of the Party.

Secretary General Oshima said that his “mission is to gather together the power of our Party. All the members of the Party must join forces in an all-out effort to restore the trust of the nation again. We must establish healthy, constructive and dignified opposition party.” Chairman Tanose of the General Council said, “I will do my best to unite the Party for regaining the government". Chairman of the Policy Research Council Ishiba expressed his determination to reinforce the Party's policy making function saying, “I will speak out for the nation, for the global community, and for Japan as the Chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council.”

President Tanigaki travelled around local places all over the country starting at the beginning of October to listen to the “silent majority” in small meetings. Through the tour the popularity and the sympathy toward him gradually mounted owing to his sincere and open personality. Voters posed very simple questions: “What is the LDP as a political party?” and “What can the LDP do for us?” Some expressed their expectations of the Party: “We want the LDP to review its past activities and work on regaining our trust”, while others complained they couldn't understand the real LDP.

Upon having those responses, President Tanigaki launched the Party Revitalization Council (chaired by Bunmei Ibuki) to define the values and future direction of the Liberal Democratic Party. He directed the chair to revise the LDP's platform to be the foundation for the recovery of the Party.

The platform is, in a sense, the constitution of the Party and the LDP published it in 1955 at the time of the foundation of the Party, and in 2005, the 50th anniversary of the Party. In January 2010, President Tanigaki published a new platform, the third one since the foundation of the Party. It was produced after long discussions lasting approximately one year for the purpose of reconfirming the original philosophy of the Party. The new platform aims at a new start toward a beloved country of Japan where we foster a dream, a hope and a pride.

More than half a century has passed since the formation of the Party, while the world has dynamically changed. Therefore, the LDP decided to publish a new charter by revising and enlarging the previous charters. However, the entire charter was not rewritten. Instead what does not make sense in the current times was reformed, while the philosophy was untouched. This process made the LDP ready for recapturing the power.

President Tanigaki worked on the revision of the charter listening to the views of the public and carefully incorporating them into the platform. His management of the Party was highly appreciated since the LDP was able to spend the solid and rich time as an opposition party that advanced the course of Party recovery.

While, the new government was formed and led by Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). It was a tripartite coalition government formed by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the People's New Party. The Hatoyama Cabinet set to work on realization of the pledges advocated in the manifesto at the general election. With the catchphrases of “no dependence on bureaucracy” and “initiative by politicians”, the government established the National Strategy Office and the Administrative Revitalization Council. Its budget screening policy, which investigated wasteful spending of taxes, attracted great attention.

The DPJ proposed measures which placed value on payments and distribution of allowances to the people rather than on productivity and growth, including making high-school tuition free, increasing child care allowances, and introducing the income security program for farmer households. Commenced without sufficient discussion and preparations, however, the DPJ's pilot experiments failed. Above all, the irresponsible promise by Prime Minister Hatoyama pledging to move US air force bases from Futenma, Okinawa prefecture, to overseas or at least to other prefectures overturned the existing Japan-U.S. agreements and worsened the Japan-U.S. relationship.

Meanwhile, the LDP, instead of arguing and criticizing the Hatoyama government for its policy failings, offered concrete suggestions for coping with the problems to the Hatoyama government. The LDP demonstrated its presence as a responsible opposition party. For example, when foot-and-mouth disease was discovered in Miyazaki prefecture in April 2010, President Tanigaki promptly visited those locations and established a foot-and-mouth disease taskforce in the LDP right after coming back to Tokyo, which was much earlier than the response of the Hatoyama Cabinet. He demanded the government to take measures without delay. This exemplified how LDP could utilize its longtime experience in government.

The Hatoyama Cabinet continued to stray off course on a number of policy areas, causing the Social Democratic Party to withdraw from the coalition government. Finally, a money scandal engulfed Prime Minister Hatoyama, which precipitated the end of the Hatoyama Cabinet in June.

The next Prime Minister was Naoto Kan of the DPJ. There were so many difficult problems facing the ordinary Diet session that LDP's Secretary General Oshima suggested to DPJ Secretary General Edano that the current Diet session be extended. Given the priority of the Upper House election as the first national election for the Kan Cabinet, the Democratic Party ignored the LDP's suggestion and rushed into electoral campaign for the House of Councillors (Upper House).

Facing the Upper House election, President Tanigaki had his back to the wall declaring, “if we cannot force the ruling party to lose its majority, I will take responsibility and resign as president.” Since it was less than twelve months since the general elections for the Lower House, it was a matter of great concern about which way the Japanese people would vote. The election took place in July 2010. As a result, the LDP won 51 seats out of 121 seats up for reelection, and thanks to the electoral alliance with the New Komeito Party it secured the highest number of seats in the election. The LDP secured landslide victories in single seat districts and this was the first step for the Party to revive and recapture the government. The coalition government lost the majority in the Upper House.

An incident took place on September 7 that threatened Japanese sovereignty. Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats patrolling the sea area near Senkaku Islands found a Chinese fishing boat and ordered it to withdraw from Japanese territorial waters. However, the ship did not stop its illegal fishing and ignored the order. Instead, it collided with and damaged two Japan's patrol boats in its escape. The Coast Guard arrested the Chinese captain on the spot.
The Kan Cabinet faced strong condemnation from the Chinese government and the Japanese government released the captain without charge and deported him. At that time the UN General Assembly was in session. In his speech at the General Assembly, Prime Minister Kan protested to Chinese President Hu Jintao, but in reality, he just read a memo in a monotone manner and failing to even look up from the podium. While the Kan Cabinet did not handle the incident resolutely, a staff member of the Coast Guard posted a video of the collision to YouTube in November: the video was not released to the public apparently to avoid causing trouble with the Chinese government. Finally, the truth was revealed to the people, which made the Japanese public skeptical of the diplomatic ability of the Kan Cabinet.
Another major incident occurred: a gigantic earthquake magnitude 9.0 struck the Tohoku area at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011. It was an unprecedented disaster. Almost 20,000 people died. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant run by Tokyo Electric Power was hit by a giant tsunami, causing mass evacuations near the plant in Fukushima prefecture. At 3 p.m., right after the earthquake, the LDP established the Great East Japan Earthquake Emergency Response Headquarters headed by President Tanigaki. This emergency management was much faster than a taskforce for the emergency response established by the Kan Cabinet. At 3:45, President Tanigaki convened its first meeting and announced that Japan must rise as one to the challenge of this national crisis. He pledged LDP's full and bipartisan support to the Kan Cabinet. At the meeting Tanigaki said, “It will need a supplementary budget for this challenge. LDP will cooperate with the government for the passing of the budget.” He then called Prime Minister Kan to offer LDP's full support.

Prime Minister Kan flew to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant by helicopter on the morning of the 12th, the day after the earthquake and inspected the site for approximately 50 minutes. As a result, the start-up of the workers was behind schedule and the operation itself was laid out. To make matters worse, the Kan Cabinet inadvertently revealed it had no administrative capacity in crisis management.

On the 19th, Prime Minister Kan sounded President Tanigaki out about joining the Kan Cabinet as deputy prime minister and the minister in charge of earthquake disaster and recovery. In the cause of earthquake disaster measures, Kan hoped to make the great coalition with the LDP so that he could make his administration stable. President Tanigaki rejected the proposal. “It is no time to fiddle with the membership of the Cabinet. We must make every possible effort for disaster restoration, to support the victims, and respond to the nuclear power plant issue. Your proposal is too abrupt. But of course, I intend to fully cooperate with you regarding the correspondence of the disaster and the recovery”, he said.

President Tanigaki travelled around Yamagata, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Iwate prefectures in East Japan to inspect the disaster areas and shelters from the end of March to April; other Party executives also made efforts to provide relief goods to those suffered in the disaster areas. Leveraging its great experience, the LDP submitted the Great East Japan Earthquake Revival and Recovery Bill on May 18 to the House of Representatives. After debate and bipartisan discussions, it became the Basic Law for Great East Japan Earthquake Revival.

When the first stage of the earthquake disaster response passed, public opinion toward the Kan Cabinet became harsher. At the end of May, LDP and the New Komeito decided to submit a no-confidence motion of the Kan Cabinet to the Diet. Following the poor response of PM Kan to the disaster, the LDP had no choice but to question his capacity as prime minister and demand his resignation. A no-confidence motion was cast on June 2 but failed. However, calls for Kan's resignation increased even within the ruling party. The LDP, giving priority to restoration and revival from the disaster, cooperated with the ruling party to pass the second supplementary budget, the special deficit-financing bond bill, and the Act on Special Measures Concerning the Procurement of Renewable Electric Energy by Operators of Electric Utilities. Though these measures achieved some success, public pressure for the prime minister's resignation became louder. PM Kan finally announced his resignation on August 27.

Yoshihiko Noda of the DPJ succeeded Kan in September. The Noda Cabinet also gave the priority to restoration and revival from the disaster. Furthermore, his cabinet targeted economic restoration to halt the excessively strong yen that had been criticized by the business sector since the DPJ took power, to take measures against the hollowing out of domestic industry caused by the strong yen, and a speedy realization of the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation system in order to strengthen and maintain the social security system.

The comprehensive reform of the social security system and taxation was agreed to by the LDP, the New Komeito, and the Noda Cabinet. Earmarked as the most critical issue facing his Cabinet, Noda submitted a package of bills for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation to the ordinary Diet session in March 2012. The aim of this bill was to raise the consumption tax rate from 5% to 10% in two phases by October 2015 (8% in April 2014 and 10% in October 2015) and to secure a sustainable social security system against a background of a low birthrate and an aging population.

Since both the LDP and the New Komeito agreed with DPJ's policy, they continued to discuss the details. A final revised bill was agreed by the three parties in the mid-June, and the modified bill passed through the House of Representatives at the end of the month and passed through the House of Councilors in August.

However, a number of DPJ members who opposed the 10% rise resigned from the party and the government's hold on power became unstable. Immediately before the voting in the House of Councilors, the three parties' leaders held talks. At the meeting Prime Minister Noda told President Tanigaki and Natsuo Yamaguchi, Head of the New Komeito that he would go to a general election after the bill is passed to seek a further mandate from the people. After three years of rebuilding and policy development since the last general election LDP now had an opportunity to regain government.

As these developments in the Lower House were unfolding, the LDP set up the Promotion Headquarters for the Revision of the Constitution for the purpose of drafting constitutional amendments. (The year 2012 marked the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty.) With Kosuke Hori as chairman of the Promotion Headquarters and Gen Nakatani as chairman of the drafting committee, the group examined all articles of the Constitution, from the preamble to supplementary rules. The proposed draft is longer than the present Constitution and comprised of eleven chapters and 111 articles. The preamble was rewritten to meet the times and to correspond to the new challenges facing the country. In publishing the draft, the LDP demonstrated to the Japanese public it was the only political party prepared to systematically tackle the revision of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, with the president's term set to expire in September, President Tanigaki announced that he would not seek re-election. President Tanigaki was one of the few presidents to serve out his full term since President Junichiro Koizumi. His accomplishments were many, including the prompt response to the earthquake disaster through the creation of the Great East Japan Earthquake Emergency Response Headquarters in the Party headquarters. Though the LDP was not power during the Tanigaki era, all of his achievements would go down in Party history.

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