Yasushi Akashi, a former U.N. undersecretary general, strongly indicated Thursday that he will run as the Liberal Democratic Party’s candidate for the Tokyo gubernatorial election in April.
LDP Secretary General Yoshiro Mori and Executive Council Chairman Takashi Fukaya met with Akashi at a Tokyo hotel to officially ask him to run on the LDP ticket.
Akashi, 68, said he appreciated the request and would seriously consider it but will wait a day or two to make a final decision.
He later told reporters his longtime experience as a career U.N. official would be beneficial in governing the nation’s capital. “Since I have watched Japan and Tokyo from a distance, I may be more able to make problem-solving decisions (than those who are close to Tokyo),” Akashi said. “I have overcome many difficult problems in the U.N.
“Once I made a decision after discussing it with and listening to professionals, I never regretted it. That kind of policymaking experience can be applied anywhere, I think.”
The LDP chose Akashi, who has experience directing and coordinating international conflict-resolution efforts, as its candidate for the April race on Wednesday, after days of twists and turns almost threatened to split its organization in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Yoshinobu Shimamura, head of the LDP’s Tokyo chapter, said concerns about whether Akashi was the right candidate disappeared after he met him. The Tokyo chapter was looking to field Koji Kakizawa, a Lower House member and former foreign minister. “My first impression of Mr. Akashi is that he is a cheerful person,” Shimamura said. “Second, I thought he has a fighting spirit. Of course, he is also bright and has guts, as you know from his extensive experience working in international society.”
Akashi’s entry brings to five the number of candidates lined up to run in the race for Tokyo governor, reminding voters of the metropolitan melee four years ago when Yukio Aoshima came out on top in a surprising victory.
While the LDP and the largest opposition force, the Democratic Party of Japan, are wooing support from New Komeito’s strong organized voters, both also seem aware that the key to victory is in the hands of the huge unaffiliated voters who helped elect outgoing incumbent Yukio Aoshima in 1995.
In that election, Nobuo Ishihara, a former deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary backed by most of the major non-Communist parties, was widely regarded as the front-runner. But Aoshima clinched the race with 1.7 million votes, far more than the 1.2 million votes that went to Ishihara.
That was one of the factors that prompted the LDP to favor Akashi over Kakizawa. Akashi was chosen “because he does not belong to any established party,” Shimamura said.