It is not a major news item, but the main dailies are carrying the news. Seven LDP Lower House members got together on the 21st and agreed to found a study group to propose an alternative to what they see as the excessively market-oriented directions of the Koizumi-Abe .administrations. The policy proposals will be announced in early September, thus likely between the inauguration of the new Cabinet and the start of the Diet session. The eight founding members (one member was absent from the inaugural meeting due to a prior commitment) are actively seeking more participants from the rest of the LDP.
The Mainichi notes that the founding members all belong to three factions that have only one Cabinet member (from the Yamazaki faction) between them, and casts doubt on their claim that this is not an anti-Abe movement. So, could T be onto something? Are the factions on the move after all? Does the fact that the dovish heads of the two smaller factions, Sadakazu and Tanigaki and Taku Yamazaki, are openly critical of the prime minister mean anything? Is it significant that the Tsushima faction--by far the largest of the three, a close second in the LDP only to the Machimura faction, which has produced the last three prime ministers including Mr. Abe---has traditionally been very much pro-China (Prime Ministers Kakuei Tanaka, Noboru Takeshita, and Ryutaro Hashimoto, to name three Old Friends of China who have led the faction before Yuji Tsushima), whereas Mr. Abe's relationship with our neighbors is seen more as an arrangement of mutual convenience?
We'll know more after we see the definitive list of Diet members who sign on to this policy study group. (Will it include members from other factions, for instance?) Even more when the new Cabinet is announced. But it is important to remember that the Tsushima faction had started off with two Cabinet members. But Administrative Reform Minister Genichiro Sada and Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma, both Tsushima faction members in good standing, had to resign as the result of, respectively, a political financing scandal and inopportune words about the atomic bombs. In both cases, Mr. Abe promoted his sub-Cabinet level advisors (Yoshimi Watanabe and Yuriko Koike) with the corresponding portfolios, leaving the Tsushima faction out in the cold. My guess is that this imbalance will be corrected, as Mr. Abe seeks to broaden his support base within the LDP.
It is also notable that the eight founding members do not include the leadership of the three factions (arguably; I welcome any corrections). Though I do think that Mr. Mori (the true proprietor of the Machimura faction) will make sure that no one from his faction will up putting his/her name to the group manifesto, I don't see the other factions lining up en masse under the banners of this likely time-limited study group. Accordingly, it is unlikely that the new group is any harbinger of the three factions lining up against the Prime Minister, and the others in his support.