The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday officially gave up its plan to join with other parties in supporting Kunio Hatoyama, vice president of the Democratic Party of Japan, even if he decides to run in the April 11 Tokyo gubernatorial election.
It will be impossible for the LDP to back Hatoyama in the race, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka told a regular news conference. With the decision to drop the plan to support Hatoyama, LDP leaders are likely to restart the difficult job of finding a strong candidate for the high-profile election.
There is also speculation that Hatoyama, who has not yet formally declared his candidacy, may not run in the election if he cannot get the LDP’s support.
In explaining the reason for the LDP’s decision not to back Hatoyama, Nonaka referred to a series of remarks made earlier by DPJ leader Naoto Kan and DPJ Deputy Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama, Kunio Hatoyama’s elder brother.
After Nonaka hinted at the possibility of the LDP jointly fielding Hatoyama as a candidate for the gubernatorial election last week, Kan, who hoped to field Hatoyama as a DPJ candidate, told reporters that Nonaka was only trying to prolong the life of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Yukio Hatoyama reportedly called LDP members of the metropolitan assembly “a group of concession hunters.”
“It is impossible for the LDP to endorse Hatoyama after being described like that by the DPJ executives. … I feel furious about it,” Nonaka told the Monday news conference.
Nonaka at one stage had hoped to jointly field Hatoyama since Hatoyama himself indicated he is ready to leave the DPJ and run as an independent in the Tokyo race. But strong resistance from the LDP’s Tokyo chapter forced party leaders to drop the plan, according to LDP sources.
Officials at the chapter also hinted Monday that they may scratch the idea of fielding House of Representatives member Koji Kakizawa, 65, a former foreign minister.
Shigeru Uchida and Hajime Yabe, secretaries general of the two LDP factions in the Tokyo Assembly, told reporters they will propose several candidates to Tokyo chapter head Yoshinobu Shimamura in the evening and urge him to make a final decision during the week.
Meanwhile, on the same TV program, international politics researcher Yoichi Masuzoe, who once was reported to be a likely LDP candidate for the gubernatorial election, hinted he may run in the race, saying he has policy plans for the metropolitan administration.
Hatoyama plans to announce whether he will run for the election by Friday. If he opts not to run, somebody else, such as Tetsundo Iwakuni, a Lower House member of the DPJ who has made an unsuccessful bid for Tokyo governor in the past, may emerge as a possible DPJ candidate.