Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, a leading candidate in Monday’s Democratic Party of Japan presidential poll, made the rounds Wednesday seeking support from party lawmakers, including kingpin Ichiro Ozawa.
Maehara visited Ozawa, leader of the largest faction in the DPJ, at his office and explained the background behind his decision to run for the party’s top spot. The winner would succeed Naoto Kan as prime minister because the DPJ controls the more powerful Lower House.
Ozawa has yet to declare who he will support in Monday’s election. Because the contest is being held during a sitting president’s term, only the party’s Diet members can vote.
Earlier in the day, Maehara met with Lower House lawmaker Shinji Tarutoko, who has shown interest in running in the presidential race, and asked for his support. Tarutoko said he will spend a day or two to decide what he is going to do, including whether he would throw his hat in the ring.
Maehara also talked with former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who reportedly asked Maehara, if he wins, to consider offering Ozawa a senior party post. Ozawa’s party membership was suspended after he was indicted over a political money scandal. Ozawa critic Maehara agrees with the suspension.