VIENNA – Tomio Okamura, a Czech senator of Japanese ancestry who planned to run in the republic’s upcoming presidential election, has had to abandon his bid after failing to collect enough valid signatures backing his candidacy, the country’s Interior Ministry said.
Okamura, 40, born in Tokyo to a Japanese father and a Czech mother, submitted around 62,000 signatures from citizens, more than the minimum 50,000 required to secure his candidacy in the January election, but only around 35,000 were judged valid by the Interior Ministry, a local report said Friday.
Okamura told Czech media that he believes the signatures were authentic and indicated he might file an appeal in court if he concludes that the ministry committed a serious error in deciding to nix his candidacy.
Local media considered Okamura among the leading candidates and an opinion poll in November ranked him third in support ratings. Okamura is a popular figure in the Czech Republic, appearing regularly on TV and running a well-known Japanese food store.
He is the third presidential hopeful whose candidacy has been blocked by the ministry.