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The defeat of a Shinshinto-backed candidate in the Miyagi gubernatorial race Sunday is still shaking the party, leaving its members worried about the Upper House election next summer.

Although the party’s executive council agreed Tuesday for unity and to make utmost efforts to win a seat in an Upper House left vacant by Ichiro Ichikawa, who lost the gubernatorial race Sunday, some members voiced doubts about the party’s management. “Looking back (over) the past year, the party has been losing in a series of elections, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan gubernatorial election and the Lower House election. I would like to ask management why we cannot win,” Shigefumi Matsuzawa said.

Takeo Nishioka, secretary general, said one reason that party unity has waned is a series of defections, according to participants in the meeting. Matsuzawa said it is vital to win in the by-election, noting it would be a double defeat if Shinshinto cannot select its own candidate.

Nishioka said the selection of its own candidate is being considered at the Miyagi chapter level, but another member said party leaders should choose the candidate, because there are no suitable ones in the local area.

Upper House member Chikage Ougi said the party’s image would be damaged if stories keep appearing in newspapers that members are challenging Shinshinto leader Ichiro Ozawa’s leadership. “If you worry about the Upper House election, please be united,” Ougi said.

Although the party’s leaders said they will decide whether to select own candidate for the by-election within a few days, observers say Shinshinto will be dealt another blow if it loses the election, which takes place Nov. 16.

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