Osaka Gov. “Knock” Yokoyama officially announced Friday that he will seek re-election this April, saying he needs to carry on with his efforts to reorganize the finances of the prefectural government.

Yokoyama, 67, a former comedian and Upper House member who won the governorship with 1.6 million votes in 1995, said he will again refuse any support from political parties — as he did four years ago.

“I would like to work on the fiscal restructuring program that I proposed (last year) and build a prefecture where citizens can live without any anxiety,” Yokoyama said, adding that he will make efforts to build trust between citizens and the prefectural government.

Osaka is facing the worst fiscal crisis of any prefecture. For fiscal 1998, which ends March 31, it is expected to suffer its first revenue shortfall since 1980. Under a 10-year streamlining program announced in September it will eliminate 7,000 civil service positions, including teachers.

Yokoyama called for local residents to cooperate with the prefecture’s belt-tightening plan. However, Yokoyama did not detail any campaign promises. The official campaign will kick off March 25.

While the Japanese Communist Party is fielding a candidate — Makoto Ajisaka, a former professor at Kansai University — non-Communist parties are still struggling to find a candidate with a chance of beating the popular incumbent.

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