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A different Muneo Suzuki enters race

Kyodo

A small political party registered a candidate Thursday for the July 21 Upper House election with the same name as the party head, who can’t run because of a past criminal conviction.

New Party Daichi, headed by Muneo Suzuki, 65, a former Lower House lawmaker, registered on its proportional representation list a 73-year-old with the same name. He is a company president and head of a nonprofit environment group.

“I will do my best, as having the same name (as the party leader) must be fate,” Suzuki told reporters in Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture, where he lives. He is among 11 candidates being fielded by the party.

The two Suzukis happened to meet decades ago and have kept in touch because their names are identical, down to the exact same kanji.

The head of the party, who once served as deputy chief Cabinet secretary, lost his Lower House seat in September 2010 after he was convicted of taking bribes and other offenses.

The Hokkaido native spent a year in prison through December 2011 and is now seeking a retrial. His civil rights have been suspended for five years.