Takenaka confirms plan to run for Upper House

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Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka on Tuesday formally announced he will run in the July 11 House of Councilors election as a candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Takenaka, a former professor of economics at Keio University, told a news conference at LDP headquarters in Tokyo that he has experienced the limits of a nonpolitician’s ability to promote the economic reforms that he and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi have supported over the past few years.

Takenaka, 53, is an advocate of austere fiscal policies and stricter rules on the lending practices of financial institutions.

Because of this, he has been criticized by many LDP members for hurting small companies in provincial areas — a traditional support base for the party.

One complaint from some LDP members is that a non-Diet member — someone who has not been given a mandate by voters — should not be allowed to exert such a huge influence over the fate of so many businesses, much less the economy of an entire country.

“It would be rude and even impossible to promote further reforms without being entrusted,” with a mandate by voters, said Takenaka, who will run as a proportional representation candidate in the Upper House race.

Under the election system, a proportional representation candidate who garners a large number of votes can help other candidates from the same party get elected, which is the mission LDP executives expect Takenaka — a former TV commentator who is widely known as a key adviser to the prime minister — to fulfill.

Asked about the LDP’s apparent desire to use his popularity to its advantage in the upcoming election, Takenaka said he is also trying to take advantage of the LDP to promote his reforms.

“Whether the LDP will use me or I will use the LDP hinges on the result of a contest of wits,” Takenaka said.