Ex-health minister Masuzoe mulls running in Tokyo gubernatorial race
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe said Wednesday he is considering running in the Feb. 9 Tokyo gubernatorial election as an independent candidate.
"I have started seriously considering it," Masuzoe, 65, told reporters in Tokyo. "I will run, basically, as an independent."
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the New Komeito party, intend to support him, with the LDP's Tokyo branch planning to enter talks on policy coordination with him soon, while some in the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan are also seeking to endorse him.
Masuzoe, a former House of Councillors member, indicated he will accept policy talks with the LDP "if they approach me," and that he will leave the small opposition New Renaissance Party to which he belongs.
Masuzoe, also a former associate professor of political science at the University of Tokyo, is expected to hold a press conference soon to declare his candidacy and campaign pledges.
He told reporters Wednesday that the pillar of his campaign promises will be to host the 2020 Olympic Games successfully and to enhance the social security system and disaster prevention measures.
The election will be held on Feb. 9 to choose the successor to Naoki Inose, who resigned last month over his receipt of 50 million yen from scandal-tainted hospital chain Tokushukai.
Referring to Masuzoe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference that he "made a great contribution as a state minister to the management of health, welfare and labor issues," while Jin Matsubara, the DPJ's Diet affairs chief, told Kyodo News, "We believe Mr. Masuzoe is the right candidate to receive our support."
After being defeated by Shintaro Ishihara, now a House of Representatives lawmaker from the opposition Japan Restoration Party, in the 1999 Tokyo gubernatorial election, Masuzoe won his House of Councillors seat as an LDP candidate in 2001. He formed the New Renaissance Party in 2010 and was ousted from the LDP.
He did not run in the upper house election last July.
The LDP headquarters will not endorse him as it once expelled him, while DPJ members are still divided over whether they should support Masuzoe, with some saying they do not move in the same direction as the LDP.
Former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami, 65, and Kenji Utsunomiya, 67-year-old former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, will also run in the gubernatorial election.
Inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu has decided to run again for the Tokyo governor's seat after making six failed bids for the post.
January 08, 2014(Mainichi Japan)