Until yesterday, the top executive posts in the LDP, aside for the presidency, were collectively known as the sanyaku ("the three roles").
Secretary-General - in charge of party finances and election outcomes (the latter being the reason why the Secretary General gets to resign a lot more often than the prime minister)
Chairman of the General Council - in charge of discussion of party affairs and coordination of party activities.
Policy Research Council Chairman - in charge the generation and compilation of policy and bills for the Diet
However, yesterday the position of Director of Elections Strategy was handed over to Koga Makoto. In terms of symbolism it was made equal in stature to a sanyaku post.
So now there is talk of the top posts collectively being the yonyaku ("the four roles").
Does this new emphasis on elections in the LDP executive mean that elections will be held soon?
Tactically, it would make sense to call an election, probably right after the failure of the legislation extending the stay of the Maritime Self Defense Forces in the Indian Ocean. Though members of the Democratic Party have spent the break fanning out into the districts as if in preparation for an election, the party is still about 80 candidates short of a full electoral slate. In December, the Fukuda Cabinet will likely still be enjoying something of a honeymoon, if the near hagiographic treatment he is receiving in this week's edition of Aera (an Asahi Shimbun publication) is any indication.
However, if you intend to defend the Koizumi Children seats purloined in 2005 from traditionally Democratic districts and from the Democratic side of the at-large regional bloc lists, would you really want Makoto "the Enforcer" Koga as the man running the campaign?
I don't think so either.
So is Fukuda's surreptitious agenda to place powerful party leaders in positions of responsibility for elections, then put off a House of Representatives election until the last possible moment? This would give potential troublemakers the badges of authority but no power, leaving Fukuda free to pursue a rollback of the more radical parts of the Koizumi/Abe ideological legacy, all while keeping fiscal and other economic reforms on schedule.
Hmmmmm....we'll have to see how the purportedly minor adjustment of the ministerial posts turns out.