How Yasukuni Could Alter Future Elections in Japan
Meanwhile, LDP Acting Secretary General Shinzo Abe, who is seen as a prospective candidate to take over from Koizumi, has strongly supported continued visits by the prime minister to the shrine, demonstrating that support for Yasukuni visits is a precondition for the next prime minister.
Abe has repeatedly claimed that China holds a grip on Japanese diplomacy over historical issues and that Chinese pressure over Yasukuni is a test for Japan's foreign policy. Junior LDP lawmakers are supportive of Abe's assertive foreign policy position.
New Komeito, however, has urged the prime minister to stop visiting the shrine. Party leader Takenori Kanzaki said the issue was damaging the foundations of the coalition.
An LDP member who is a former Cabinet member said it was difficult for the party to hold on to power without New Komeito's cooperation on elections and Diet affairs, and as a result Abe's position on Yasukuni may jeopardize his bid for the prime minister's post.
The LDP member went on to say that statements made by Koga and other LDP heavyweights were intended to make Yasukuni a key issue for the party presidency.