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LDP may ask pop star's dad to run for Tokyo governor

Shun Sakurai

The Tokyo chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is considering asking former Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Vice Minister Shun Sakurai, 62, the father of pop star Sho Sakurai, to run as its candidate for Tokyo governor, it has been learned.

    The election comes following the sudden resignation of the former governor, Yoichi Masuzoe, over a funding scandal. The election campaign will kick off on July 14, with voting taking place on July 31.

    At a meeting on June 27, the LDP chapter agreed to choose a gubernatorial candidate possibly within the week, and it is in the final stages of selecting a candidate.

    According to an insider source with the chapter, in public polling conducted on June 25 and June 26, out of a number of possible LDP gubernatorial candidates Sakurai was the most preferred. As the last two governors, Naoki Inose and Masuzoe, were well-known before becoming the heads of the capital and were forced to resign over money scandals, many among the Tokyo LDP chapter hope the next governor is more down-to-earth clerical type, says an LDP member of the metropolitan assembly. For this reason, and because of the results of the poll, many in the LDP caucus support making Sakurai the candidate.

    Sakurai was born in Gunma Prefecture. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, he entered the then Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in 1977, where he served at positions including as head of a bureau on transmissions and international strategy. From July 2015 through June 2016 he served as the vice minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. His son Sho Sakurai is a member of the Japanese male pop group Arashi.

    Sakurai has, however, reportedly indicated to the prime minister's office that even if he is asked to run in the election, he will refuse. Some LDP members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly favor former Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare vice Minister Atsuko Muraki as the candidate, while among the LDP caucus there is also support for former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike.

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