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LDP readmits 11 'postal rebels' for money and votes

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (Liberal Democratic Party president) on November 27 decided to readmit to the LDP 11 House of Representatives members who had been forced to leave the party last year due to their opposition to a bill to privatize the postal service.

In the general election last year, the LDP made the postal privatization scheme the single major issue and gained a victory.

At that time, the LDP refused to authorize its Lower House members who had voted against the postal privatization to stand as LDP candidates, and even had other candidates stand in the same constituencies to remove these members.

Then Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro called on voters to support the approved LDP candidates by saying, "All LDP candidates are in favor of postal privatization."

Only a year later, however, the LDP has come to seize even the votes cast for the opposition to the privatization. The approval of readmission of these lawmakers shows that the LDP had cheated voters.

The reason why the LDP has hastily approved the readmission of the "rebels" is that the party wants to collect votes and money in view of the House of Councilors election scheduled for next summer.

The districts where eight out of the 11 lawmakers were elected are located within the Upper House election constituencies which the LDP attaches the most importance to. Since these lawmakers have strong support bases in their local areas to be reelected to the Lower House, the party desperately needs their cooperation in the upcoming national election.

Their return to the LDP will also increase the government subsidies for the party by 250 million yen.

Faced with the decline in support rates, Prime Minister Abe is justifying the readmission by saying, "The LDP will never go back to its old customs."

In the general election last year, however, Abe who was the LDP acting secretary general emphasized that the main issue of the election is whether voters will support the postal privatization, and that the LDP's opposition to the "postal reform rebels" shows the party's "determination to achieve reform".

His decision to readmit them is tantamount to a manipulation of voters.
- Akahata, November 29, 2006

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