Staff writer

SENDAI — A 33-year-old candidate in the July 12 Upper House election told an audience that the current economic stagnation has been caused by poor policy decisions.

“It is as if the government is giving headache medicine to a patient complaining of pain in his feet,” Sayuri Kamata said. “I think it is wrong that the government did not implement tax cuts to ease the financial burden of raising children.”

The hundred people who gathered to hear her speech may have assumed Kamata belongs to an opposition party. However, she is a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

In Miyagi Prefecture, nine candidates, including three LDP members, are vying for two seats.

Among the LDP members, Kaname Endo, the 82-year-old incumbent, is backed by the party. Ichiro Ichikawa, 61, a former Upper House member, and Kamata, who has served as a Sendai Municipal Assembly member, are campaigning with only the support of the party’s Miyagi chapter.

With an increase in the number of unaffiliated voters, candidates and their supporters are trying different ways to appeal to the public. Even LDP members are deviating from traditional campaign strategies.

New campaign strategies have also been prompted by tougher guilt-by-association provisions in the Public Offices Election Law. Miyagi became the first place where the new provisions were applied when LDP Lawmaker Fukujiro Kikuchi had to give up his Lower House seat last October because of his son’s conviction of election law violations.

The guilt-by-association provisions introduced in 1994 allow prosecutors to seek sanctions against candidates whose relatives, secretaries or key campaign organizers are found guilty of election law violations.

The decision to field Kamata was made mainly by a group of conservative municipal assembly members. Ichikawa was strongly backed by LDP members of the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly.

The party’s Miyagi chapter decided to support Kamata and Ichikawa, but national LDP headquarters decided to back incumbent Endo when he expressed a desire to run again, contrary to speculation that he would retire, party sources said. Kamata is the first woman to vie for a seat in the Diet with the support of only a party chapter.

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