Slain DPJ lawmaker’s kin want answers, snub endorsements

The next of kin of slain lawmaker Koki Ishii will not support any candidate in Tokyo’s No. 6 single-seat constituency in the coming House of Representatives election.

The family thus will not endorse Yoko Komiyama, the Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker who won an April Lower House by-election to succeed Ishii, who was also a DPJ lawmaker.

Four candidates, including Komiyama, are vying for the Lower House seat in the Nov. 9 election. The others are Liberal Democratic Party-backed Takao Ochi, 39, son of former Financial Reconstruction Commission Chairman Michio Ochi; Miyoko Tanaka, 56, backed by the Japanese Communist Party; and Nobuto Hosaka, 47, a Social Democratic Party member from the Lower House.

Komiyama, 55, won a landslide victory in the by-election over other candidates by pledging to continue Ishii’s policies and winning strong support from Ishii’s widow, Natasha, 59.

But on Thursday, Ishii’s daughter, Tatiana, 31, attended a gathering held by a Hosaka supporter and expressed gratitude to Hosaka for insisting at a Diet session that the government try to uncover the real motive behind Ishii’s murder, despite the arrest and confession of a suspect.

A rightwing extremist was charged with killing Ishii, 61, outside his house in Setagaya Ward on Oct. 25, 2002. The suspect turned himself in to police the next day and reportedly told them he killed Ishii because the lawmaker refused to help him pay his rent.

Ishii’s relatives have said they think the police are not doing enough to investigate the crime and that there is more to it than money, and have offered 300,000 yen to people who come forward with information about the real reason for his murder.

Ishii was active in exposing various financial misdeeds, including those involving Muneo Suzuki, a former lawmaker who was ousted from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s LDP in March 2002. Ishii also played an active role in exposing the activities of Aum Shinrikyo in Russia.

Tatiana said her family decided to maintain a distance from all the candidates this time, adding, “We do not think Ms. Komiyama fully understands my father’s work or took it up.”

A campaign official for Komiyama said: “Komiyama still thinks she has taken up Mr. Ishii’s (work). If the family has any discontent toward her activities, we would like them to tell us.”

An official at Hosaka’s campaign office, referring to Tatiana’s words of gratitude, said, “I think she saw something in common between Mr. Ishii and Hosaka, as they both have a strong desire to investigate various suspicions concerning the government and to pursue them in Diet sessions.”