Photo/Illutration Crowds listen to speeches given by politicians, including a candidate for the July 21 Upper House election, in Sendai on July 4. (Shigetaka Kodama)

Apparently fearing protests and hostile crowds, the Liberal Democratic Party did not disclose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stump schedule for the first two days of campaigning for the Upper House election, which started July 4.

The party explained that the schedule of Abe, also the LDP president, could suddenly change to deal with the disaster caused by the torrential rains in southern Kyushu.

However, a similar schedule blackout occurred in the run-up to the 2017 Lower House election as LDP officials feared organized protests and jeers from spectators.

On the morning of July 4, Abe summoned ministers dealing with the heavy rains in Kyushu to the prime minister’s office and issued instructions to them to respond to damage triggered by the heavy rains.

After that, Abe made his first speech of the official election campaign period in Fukushima. He then visited four other locations, including two in Sendai, and gave speeches there that day. However, the LDP headquarters in Tokyo did not make Abe's schedule public.

Abe planned to visit municipalities in Niigata Prefecture, including Murakami and Niigata, on July 5. The LDP’s Niigata prefectural chapter issued an advertisement showing the locations and times of his speeches in a local newspaper. However, the party’s headquarters did not disclose the schedule as of the evening of July 4.

The headquarters apparently tried to prevent protesters living in other prefectures from gathering in Niigata Prefecture, though the prefectural chapter released Abe's schedule to local residents.

At the time of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election held three months before the 2017 Lower House election, Abe gave a speech in Tokyo’s Akihabara district on the last day of the official campaign period.

At that time, part of the crowd who had gathered there after learning of his appearance repeatedly shouted "resign" in unison at Abe.

Abe responded in his speech, “I must not be defeated by people like this.”

The LDP suffered a disastrous defeat in the assembly election the next day.

Fearing the recurrence of a similar defeat, the LDP did not reveal part of Abe's stump schedule at the time of the Lower House election.

The LDP has also changed the locations of his speeches after learning that people critical of the Abe administration planned to gather there.

When Abe gave a speech in Akihabara for the LDP presidential election in 2018, the party divided a public passageway into two sections and allowed only people who were confirmed to be LDP supporters to enter one of them.