Yokohama mayor quits but rules out Diet run

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakada submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday to cut short his second term with less than a year to go, but the former Democratic Party of Japan Lower House member does not plan to run in the Aug. 30 national election, sources close to him said.

The election to replace Nakada, 44, will likely be held the same day as the general election.

“The new mayor will be able to design next year’s city budget from scratch,” Nakada told a news conference after submitting his resignation letter.

Nakada said he wants to launch a political group around autumn and then plan his entry on the national stage after the Aug. 30 election.

“From now on, I will work to renew the country’s politics as one citizen,” Nakada said, adding that he is thinking of forming a political alliance with Matsuyama Mayor Tokihiro Nakamura of Ehime Prefecture and Suginami Ward Mayor Hiroshi Yamada of Tokyo.

Nakada had told a meeting of his supporters Sunday evening that he wouldn’t run for re-election when his term ends next spring, according to the sources.

Explaining why he would not seek a third term, Nakada cited his achievements in office, including handling the events related to the 150th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama port to foreign ships this year, the sources said.

He also helped Yokohama win the bid to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next year.

After working as secretary to Morihiro Hosokawa, a former prime minister, and Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister, Nakada was first elected to the Lower House in 1993, serving three terms overall.

He was first elected Yokoyama mayor in 2002 at age 37.