Japan’s ruling party prods leader of small opposition group to run for Tokyo governor

Kyodo

The Democratic Party of Japan has sounded out Yoichi Masuzoe, a Lower House lawmaker who leads a tiny opposition party, about running in Tokyo’s gubernatorial election next month, members of the ruling party said Saturday.

“Masuzoe replied that nothing has been decided yet” about a possible bid to become the capital’s new governor, Yoshikatsu Nakayama, leader of the DPJ’s Tokyo chapter, told reporters.

Acting DPJ Secretary General Jun Azumi told reporters that the party has so far only made informal inquiries with Masuzoe, the 63-year-old head of Shinto Kaikaku (New Renaissance Party).

But if Masuzoe decides to stand in the Dec. 16 election, Nakayama said the DPJ would cooperate with major opposition parties in backing his candidacy.

The DPJ, headed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, is finding it difficult to field its own candidate for the gubernatorial election after former Gov. Shintaro Ishiharaabruptly abruptly resigned last month to form a national political party.

Masuzoe, a former health minister who was first elected to the Upper House in 2001, resigned from the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party in 2010 and subsequently launched Shinto Kaikaku.