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Previous LDP leadership elections taught Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara that being a former elite bureaucrat well-versed in policy issues does not make one a strong candidate to be prime minister.
Inside Japanese politics

Seiji Kihara: The policy guru behind Japan Prime Minister Kishida

Inspired by Margaret Thatcher, the protege also takes cues from Yoshihide Suga

Ryo Nemoto, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- On Oct. 26, five days before Japan's lower house elections, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was in Higashimurayama, a Tokyo suburb, stumping for Seiji Kihara, his closest confidant. "Please help Kihara-san, whom I trust more than anyone else, win in the election," Kishida implored voters, lavishing praise on the deputy chief cabinet secretary, who was standing beside him.

The prime minister sees the 51-year-old elite bureaucrat-turned-lawmaker as "indispensable" to his political success. While Kishida was foreign minister, Kihara supported him as parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs and then as state minister for foreign affairs. When Kishida was chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, Kihara was on hand as chief secretary.

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