Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is considering fielding famed sport journalist and educator Hirotada Ototake, who was born without limbs due to a congenital disorder, as a candidate for an Upper House election this summer, reports said Wednesday.
If true, Ototake’s candidacy on an LDP ticket would make him the latest celebrity recruited by the conservative party as part of its attempt to appeal to a diverse electorate ahead of the crucial summer polls.
Last month, the party announced it will field pop singer Eriko Imai, a former member of the mega-hit all-girl teen group Speed, for the election in an apparent bid to tap into her reputation as a devoted mother of an 11-year-old son with hearing disabilities.
Ototake’s widely-known pronouncement that disabilities do not limit one’s potential could also chime with the Abe government’s slogan of creating a society where “all 100 million citizens can play an active role.”
An online message seeking Ototake’s comment went unanswered Wednesday.
Ototake, 39, rocketed to fame in 1998 with his inspirational autobiography titled “Gotai Fumanzoku” (“No One’s Perfect”), which, translated into several languages, cheerfully detailed his wheelchair-bound life while stressing that “disabilities should be embraced as part of who you are.”
After graduating from prestigious Waseda University with a degree in political science and economics, Ototake carved out a diverse career as a sports journalist, elementary school teacher, author, actor and education board member in Tokyo.
Also a father of three, he established Greenbird Shinjuku in 2014, a nonprofit organization that aims to clean up the streets of the neighborhood. Ototake is currently studying public policy at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.