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The first step is to strengthen the Abe government and the Party with victories in the Fukushima and Okinawa gubernatorial elections

October 7, 2014

Interview with Election Strategy Committee Director-General Toshimitsu Motegi


Toshimitsu Motegi

We spoke with Toshimitsu Motegi, member of the House of Representatives and the newly appointed Election Strategy Committee Director-General, responsible for running elections on the Party's behalf. Gubernatorial elections are coming up soon in Fukushima and Okinawa, and nationwide local elections are scheduled for next year. These important dates mean that it is crucial for the Party to build a strong electoral organization. We asked Election Strategy Committee Director-General Motegi about what the Party needs to do and the arguments it needs to make to prevail at the ballot box.


Q: Tell us how you feel about being appointed Election Strategy Committee Director-General and what it is you want to accomplish.


Election Strategy Committee Director-General Toshimitsu Motegi: Two years ago, the LDP was restored to power under the slogan of "taking back Japan," and our victory in last year's House of Councillors election gave us control over both Houses.


We progressed by leaps and bounds, but we have two very important gubernatorial elections just around the corner and the nationwide local elections next year. I think it is crucial that the Party unify around these "final battles to take back Japan," and I want to build strong bases to do that.


As the person responsible for running elections, I will work under the direction of the Party President and Secretary-General to bring the Party together, coordinate closely with local organizations, and do everything possible for victory in each and every contest.


Q: What do you want to do first as Director-General of the Election Strategy Committee?


Motegi: First on the agenda are the gubernatorial elections that are coming up in Fukushima, and then Okinawa.


For the past one year and eight months, I was Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and had been involved in reconstruction efforts. I think the top priority has to be reconstruction in the disaster areas, and that is why we have decided to support Former Deputy Governor Masao Uchibori, who has been deeply involved in the reconstruction of Fukushima.


We have made great strides forward. Fukushima Prefecture has decided to accept an intermediate storage facility, and the central government has allocated a budget of 301 billion yen for its construction. A victory in the gubernatorial election will help the Party Headquarters and the Federation of Fukushima Prefecture LDP Branches work together to make progress on reconstruction.


Turning to Okinawa, I believe this is an extremely important election because of the many issues involved: reducing the burdens of hosting military bases while maintaining the Japan-U.S. security framework and promoting and building the local economy -- something that is particularly vital to Okinawa.


The gubernatorial election, the Naha mayoral election, and the prefectural legislature by-election will all start at the same time. I want to listen to the intentions and the ideas of the Federation of Okinawa Prefecture LDP Branches, our coalition partner the New Komeito, and other groups that support the Party, and develop a platform of policies and programs to reduce the burden of the bases, maintain the Japan-U.S. security framework, and build the economy in Okinawa.


Q: What do you think needs to be done to improve the LDP's electoral viability?


Motegi: More than anything else, we need to deliver the results of Abenomics to every corner of the country and ensure that people feel the effects of economic recovery in their local communities.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks about this as a second chapter in the battle to retake Japan, and I think our most important task in this will be to re-energize outlying areas. As people begin to feel the effects of Abenomics, we will see new momentum toward victory in local elections.


Victories in local elections will then help to strengthen us both as a government and as a party. I think there were many factors that contributed to the three-year failure of the DPJ government--the unrealistic manifesto, the inability of the party to make decisions on important policies, and the complete lack of direction. But I think the most important factor was the weakness of local organizations and the failure to build a strong party base able to understand and act on what people outside of Tokyo want.


The LDP's strength comes from its long experience as a governing party, the rich pool of talent that it can draw on, and also its robust local organizations. Together, they provide an unshakable foundation for the government.


Victory at the ballot box is the most important support we can provideto strengthen the Abe government and the LDP base.

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