If he runs against Kamei, Horie will now be LDP’s pal

by Reiji Yoshida

A high-profile election battle may be brewing in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi revealed Thursday that Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie may agree to run on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket against LDP rebel Shizuka Kamei in the Sept. 11 general election.

LDP Secretary General Tsutomu “Takebe told me (Horie) wants to run in a Hiroshima constituency if he can,” Koizumi told reporters. “That’s what I heard.”

Kamei, an ex-LDP policy chief, has represented Hiroshima’s No. 6 constituency.

No final decision has been made on Horie’s candidacy, Koizumi said, adding he did not know why the maverick entrepreneur wanted to run against Kamei.

But Horie may have good reason to want to fight a high-profile election battle.

A race between the outspoken IT-investment bad boy and one of Koizumi’s primary postal privatization foes — an eloquent speaker when appearing on TV — would certainly be played up by media.

Internet service provider Livedoor has seen a surge in traffic at its search-engine Web site since making headlines earlier this year with its foiled hostile takeover of Nippon Broadcasting System Inc.

A Livedoor public relations officer declined comment Thursday evening on Horie’s political plans, saying the company was not in a position to speak on the matter.

Horie drew harsh criticism from LDP executives for his business tactics when he tried to take over NBS in what was perceived as an underhanded attempt to gain control over the management of Fuji Television Network Inc.

The LDP is now trying to tap high-profile figures like Horie to help the party get more proportional-representation votes in the Lower House election.

Asked by reporters Wednesday to comment on the LDP executives moving from lambasting Horie to asking him to run for the party, Koizumi’s only response was it didn’t matter to him.

“People who criticize (us) will criticize whatever we do,” Koizumi said.