OSAKA — Saying Osaka needs an honest and reliable leader, the Association to Reform the Osaka Prefectural Government has announced it will back a new candidate to replace Gov. “Knock” Yokoyama in Osaka’s gubernatorial election next spring.

Their choice: Makoto Ajisaka, a 65-year-old philosophy professor at Kansai University who has won the support of the Japanese Communist Party’s Osaka chapter and various labors unions. “We have looked for a clean, fair person who can protect the lives of Osaka people and who can vitalize the economy. Ajisaka is honest and trustworthy,” said Isamu Tokuhata, secretary general of the Association to Reform the Osaka Prefectural Government, which has 68 organizations and about 300,000 members.

Ajisaka’s comment on his candidacy was not available, but is expected to formally announce his entry to the gubernatorial race by mid this month, the association officials said. The officials said that contrary to what Yokoyama promised, government policies have gone against the weak in society, as seen in the prefecture’s restructuring plan announced in July.

Yokoyama has given in to Kansai business circles and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, they said. He has not announced whether he will run for a second term. Other political parties, including the LDP, have not decided if they will back any candidates.

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