Ex-land minister Mabuchi to run in DPJ presidential race

Kyodo

Former transport minister Sumio Mabuchi will run in the Democratic Party of Japan’s presidential election, a senior DPJ member said Sunday, joining former trade minister Banri Kaieda, who declared the previous day.

The candidates emerged a week after the party was savaged in the House of Representatives election.

Renho, former minister of administrative reform, said Mabuchi decided to enter the race after discussing the matter with her in Tokyo the same day and that she agreed not to run.

On Saturday, Renho said she would only consider running if senior members like Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada, DPJ policy chief Goshi Hosono and Mabuchi did not.

At a press conference later Sunday, the former minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism said he has the 20 lawmaker recommendations required to enter the election and would like to transform the DPJ so it can win back the public and return to power.

The election will be held Tuesday at a meeting of all party Diet members.

Kaieda has said he intends to call for internal unity during the campaign but would also like to debate his rivals on economic policy.

Former farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, who is backing Kaieda, said the veteran lawmaker also has the 20 required recommendations to run.

The DPJ is struggling to turn itself around ahead of next summer’s election for the House of Councilors, where a DPJ-led group remains the largest force in the 242-seat upper chamber.

Voting this time, however, will be limited to the 145 members who sit in both chambers of the Diet.

In the Dec. 16 general election, the DPJ lost two-thirds of its seats in the 480-seat Lower House as voters punished it for failing to make good on its campaign promises in the divided legislature.

That night, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced he was stepping down as DPJ chief to take the blame for the loss.