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In a surprising move, Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima announced Monday that he will not seek a second four-year term in the April 11 gubernatorial election.

“I have done all I had to do. I have nothing to regret or feel ashamed of. I want to do my best at my present job until my term expires,” Aoshima, 66, told a Tokyo press conference. “I have been struggling to fulfill the wish of 1.7 million voters who supported me (in the 1995 election) and I think I did meet their expectations,” said Aoshima, a former TV script writer and Upper House member who won the 1995 election with a landslide victory.

Aoshima’s announcement that he is not seeking a second term has thrown the Tokyo gubernatorial election wide open.

The Liberal Democratic Party is considering fielding Lower House member Koji Kakizawa, 65, in the gubernatorial race. Kakizawa, a former foreign minister, is currently secretary general of the LDP’s Tokyo chapter.

The Democratic Party of Japan has been searching for its own candidate. DPJ Secretary General Tsutomu Hata said Monday that DPJ Vice President Kunio Hatoyama is a possible candidate.

The Japanese Communist Party has decided to back Mitsuru Mikami, a 66-year-old education critic.

Former Upper House member Chinpei Nozue, 67, a professor at Taisho University, plans to run as an independent and New Komeito has not yet decided whether to field a candidate.

Elected as an independent with the support of voters who distanced themselves from existing political parties, Aoshima fulfilled his campaign pledge by promptly scrapping the World City Expo, scheduled for 1996, upon taking office in 1995.

Aoshima, however, did not always go with public opinion. In a move that was widely criticized by Tokyo citizens, Aoshima gave the go-ahead to an injection of public funds into failed credit associations.

During the press conference held at his home in Tokyo’s Nakano, however, Aoshima stressed his achievements since he took office. Aoshima said he made big changes in such areas as recycling and administrative reform, claiming he succeeded in changing people’s views toward garbage disposal problems.

He also said his plan of restructuring the city’s administration was the fruit of heart-to-heart discussions with metropolitan government officials. Earlier this month, Aoshima announced the Tokyo government’s first reorganization plan, aimed at reducing the number of departments. “I have been criticized for having done nothing but scrapping the expo, but what I did was more important and of benefit to Tokyo citizens,” he said.

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