With Shinzo Abe’s support battered by a series of scandals, his survival as Japan’s prime minister increasingly depends on his ability to keep the factions within his ruling Liberal Democratic Party pacified.

The groups — each with its own leader and agenda — are jostling for influence ahead of a party election in September that will determine whether Abe gets a third term as LDP president and a chance to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. Whoever wins the poll can become premier without a general election and the country’s fragmented opposition would be unlikely to pose a significant challenge in any subsequent vote.

Faction ties can help provide the necessary nominations from at least 20 of the LDP’s 405 lawmakers. Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, 61, will likely call on the bloc he controls if he decides as expected to challenge Abe, while not belonging to a faction is one of several reasons why Shinjiro Koizumi, 37 — the popular son of a former prime minister — might sit things out this time.

A public opinion poll published Sunday by Kyodo News found that 26.6 percent of respondents wanted Koizumi to take over as LDP leader, while 24.7 percent favored Ishiba. Abe was third, with 21 percent.

Here’s a closer look at the groups that will determine Abe’s fate:

1. Abe-Hosoda (94 lawmakers)

Abe, 63, belongs to the largest faction, a conservative group founded in 1979 on principles of good governance and officially led by ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda. The bloc also produced Abe’s mentor, Junichiro Koizumi. Any change in premier would raise questions about how long Japan might continue with its ultra-easy monetary policy and whether it will go ahead with a planned increase in the consumption tax next year.

2. Aso (59 lawmakers)

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso controls the second-biggest faction. A former prime minister who has served under Abe since 2012, Aso has pledged to keep supporting the premier and his fight against deflation. Those ties help explain why the 77-year-old has been able to withstand resignation calls over the ministry’s involvement in recent scandals and his unsympathetic comments about a sexual harassment case.

3. Takeshita (55 lawmakers)

Wataru Takeshita’s faction dominated the LDP in the late 1980s and early 1990s under his elder brother, but its strength has since faded. Takeshita, 71, hasn’t made clear whom he plans to back in the September election, but last month told the Sankei newspaper he favored someone who would tackle Japan’s bloated national debt.

4. Kishida (47 lawmakers)



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