/

Ishihara confirms stroke but denies retirement speculation

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Shintaro Ishihara on Saturday pledged to remain coleader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), denying speculation he might quit and resign from politics over his poor health.

“Everyone must want me dead, but that’s not going to happen. . . . If I die, Japan will be so boring,” Ishihara, 80, said at a news conference after participating in the party’s inaugural convention in Osaka by videophone. “I will continue to play the role of the villain until I die.”

Ishihara, who resigned as Tokyo governor before successfully running in the Lower House election last December, confirmed speculation that he had a stroke in late February and was hospitalized Feb. 27, reportedly because of a worsening cold. He said he was discharged Friday.

“My left hand felt numb. . . . My doctor told me to immediately come to the hospital because it sounded like a grave symptom,” he said, adding that there haven’t been any aftereffects.

Ishihara met with the press after holding a video conference with party coleader Toru Hashimoto during Nippon Ishin’s convention. Although he seemed to have lost weight, his movements were steadfast and his aggressive and fiery nature was very much on show when a reporter asked him about reports speculating he might resign.

“Who said that? Bring that magazine reporter over here and I will knock him out,” Ishihara replied.

The established writer also gave reassurances that he didn’t suffer any brain damage, saying he completed two short stories from his hospital bed. He further said he intends to participate in the upcoming party leaders’ debate at the Diet.

“I have so much I want to say. I could not say everything I wanted to in the last question-and-answer session,” he said.