This is a translation of an article that ran in the 6/25/15 edition of the Sankei Shimbun 1. It describes a new LDP-affiliated group that intends to mobilize artists to support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Noting this activity seems important: the idea might sound hilarious, but it’s no laughing matter. Japanese Wikipedia already has a robust entry 2 on the group which I imagine will remain updated.
Pro-Abe Study Group “Culture and Art Chat” Begins
On June 25, young Diet members of the LDP inaugurated a study group that will exchange opinions with artists invited as lecturers. Among the attendees were many Diet members close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (LDP President); an aim of the group is to increase the possibility of an uncontested run for the Prime Minister ahead of presidential elections in September.
The new study group is called “Culture and Art Chat.” According to its prospectus, through the exchange of opinions with artists the group aims to “draw up impactful ‘Policy Art’ and acquire the intelligence and ability to implement it.”
The 37 attendees of this first meeting, held at the LDP headquarters, included pro-Abe members such as Deputy Secretary Katsunobu Kato, Foreign Affairs Official Kentaro Sonoura, Special Assistant to the President Koichi Hagiuda. The speaker was writer Naoki Hyakuta.
LDP Youth Bureau Chief Minoru Kihara, the inaugural public face of the group, stressed to reporters after the meeting: “As a member of Diet attached to a party, it is natural to support the things that the government, or party, is attempting to push forward.” As presidential elections approach, it can be expected that the group will act as a “cheerleading group” for the Prime Minister. In the future, the group is expected to meet monthly.
The same day, a study group held by the party’s liberal Diet members, “Learn from the Past: A Meeting for Young Diet Members Aiming Towards ‘Robust Conservative Politics,’” had intended to invite the manga artist Yoshinori Kobayashi, but the event was cancelled at the last minute due to “operational circumstances.”