Former Miyazaki Prefecture Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru is expected to drop his plan to run in Tokyo’s gubernatorial election, according to sources.
The 55-year-old comedian-turned-politician has informed people close to him that he will not contest the race, the sources said Saturday. The disclosure came after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced last week he would dissolve the Lower House on Friday for a general election.
Earlier, Higashikokubaru appeared ready to join the Dec. 16 gubernatorial election to choose a successor to Shintaro Ishihara, who resigned as governor to form a new party for his comeback to national politics.
But Higashikokubaru apparently abandoned the plan after deciding it would be difficult to win the race, based on a series of opinion polls showing that Tokyo Vice Gov. Naoki Inose, who has been endorsed by Ishihara as his successor, has far greater voter support. Difficulties in procuring sufficient campaign funds were also behind his change of mind, according to the sources.
Though expected to run, Inose, 65, has yet to declare his candidacy.
Meanwhile, Higashikokubaru has been asked by Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) to run as one of its candidates in the upcoming Lower House election. The dissolution Friday of the all-important lower chamber of the Diet set the stage for a Dec. 16 general election that will coincide with the election of Tokyo’s new governor.
Higashikokubaru stepped down as Miyazaki governor in January 2011, at the end of his first term. He ran in the previous Tokyo gubernatorial election in April 2011, but finished second to Ishihara.
He has held talks with Nippon Ishin no Kai on the conditions for his running in the Lower House election from the party. According to the sources, a plan has been proposed for Higashikokubaru to run from the Tokyo electoral district under the proportional representation segment.
But Higashikokubaru has yet to decide whether to accept the party’s request because no agreement has been reached on the details, including his rank in Nippon Ishin on Kai’s proportional representation list of candidates, the sources said.
On Saturday, Nippon Ishin no Kai, led by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, was merged with Ishihara’s Taiyo no To (The Sunrise Party) to create a third force to challenge the two major national parties — the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party. Ishihara was appointed president of the new entity and Hashimoto deputy leader the same day.
This development may affect Higashikokubaru’s decision on whether to run in the general election on the party’s ticket, the sources noted.