Singer Eriko Imai has announced she will run in the Upper House election this summer as a proportional-representation candidate of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The 32-year-old cited her experience raising a son with a hearing disability as a reason for her decision. In a news conference Tuesday at LDP headquarters in Tokyo, she said, using sign language, “I want to create a society in which disabled children can have hopes that are brighter than now.”
Imai’s son is 11 years old. She is a member of Speed, a J-pop girl band that had a string of smash hits in the 1990s.
On the sticky issue of the planned relocation of the Futenma U.S. military base within her home prefecture of Okinawa, Imai said: “Reducing Okinawa’s base burdens is a common wish.
“I will make serious efforts on the issue while listening to the voices of Okinawa residents.”
All four members of Speed are from Okinawa.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga expressed the hope that Imai’s election will help the LDP and its policies.
Noting that she is “influential among young people,” the top government spokesman said her “cooperation with the LDP will be a boost to realize a society with the dynamic engagement of all citizens.” The slogan is one that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently espoused.
Imai said she will remain a singer after the election.
Speed’s first single, “Body & Soul,” was released in 1996, when the four members were aged between 12 and 15. The quartet is best known for “White Love,” a 1997 smash hit.