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Nippon Ishin plans 200 Lower House candidates

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) officials announced 60 new candidates Wednesday for the Lower House election and said the final total will probably be around 200, well short of the 350 they predicated only a couple months ago.

The announcement of new candidates, the third since Nippon Ishin merged with Shintaro Ishihara’s group last week, brings the total to 116, after 47 were announced in the first round and nine in the second round earlier this week. More candidates for the Dec. 16 election are expected to be announced Thursday and Saturday, party officials said.

Of the 60 who declared their candidacy Wednesday, two-thirds are in their 30s and 40s. Ten are from Tokyo and six from Kanagawa Prefecture. The rest are spread out among 27 prefectures, mostly in central and western Japan. Only four are women.

They come from a variety of backgrounds and include company employees, accountants and business consultants. Around a half dozen have worked in the media.

Sixteen are either current or former politicians, including Masayoshi Namiki, a former Liberal Democratic Party member who held positions in the Cabinets of Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda and Taro Aso. At 63, he is the oldest candidate announced Wednesday.

Also added to the roster is Ryuichi Yoneyama, 45, a doctor and lawyer who will run in the Niigata No. 5 district currently represented by education minister Makiko Tanaka.

All of the candidates announced so far will run in single-seats districts, but Nippon Ishin officials are still hoping to field a large number in the proportional representative segment as well, senior party official Toru Azuma said at a news conference following the announcement of the candidates.

An announcement on proportional representative candidates is expected after the final list of single-seat candidates is released Saturday.