The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is considering fielding pop singer Eriko Imai, formerly of the megahit dance group Speed, as an official candidate in the Upper House election this summer, a report said Friday.
In response to the report, LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki was noncommittal. During a regular press briefing Friday morning, Tanigaki said he was “not aware” of the move at all.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know what Speed was. People around me called me a dinosaur for that,” Tanigaki, 70, said of the now defunct female band that was the zeitgeist of 1990s Japan.
A spokesman for Imai’s artist agency, Rising Production, also said the company had no knowledge of Imai’s possible foray into politics.
In an apparent bid to boost her electability, the LDP, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is eying the Okinawa native’s tie-up with Aiko Shimajiri, an Upper House lawmaker who doubles as minister for Okinawa issues, the Sankei Shimbun reported.
Aside from being a singer, Imai, 32, is a single mother whose 11-year-old son has hearing disabilities. Her deep interest in social welfare policies may strike a chord with swing voters.
Her possible candidacy as a LDP-backed politician, however, could belie what many took as her past anti-LDP views.
In an apparent reference to controversial security bills championed by Abe, Imai said on her Twitter account on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII last year: “Judging from the way things are today in Japan, I’m worried Japan is becoming OK with the idea of a war as long as it’s a small one . . . or is it just me who thinks that?”
The four-member Speed is a female band that in its heyday in the 1990s released a series of smash hits.
The band broke up in 2000, but made a comeback in 2008. However, the group is no longer active today. Last year, Imai and fellow Speed member Hiroko Shimabukuro formed the duo Erihiro.