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Koki Chuma, chairman of the Osaka chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party, met with LDP Secretary General Yoshiro Mori on Wednesday to discuss the Feb. 6 Osaka gubernatorial by-election, and left it to Mori to decide whom the LDP will back in the election, sources said. During the meeting, however, Chuma requested that the LDP rescind its earlier decision to support Fusae Ota, 48, a councilor of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s secretariat, as a compromise candidate to replace “Knock” Yokoyama, who stepped down last month due to a sex scandal. But during a news conference later in the day, Chuma indicated he would be flexible on his own candidacy, stressing that the important thing was for the party’s leadership and local chapters to put forward candidates and discuss the matter with other parties. On Monday, the LDP’s Osaka chapter decided to field Chuma, 63, presently vice parliamentary minister of transport, as its candidate in the gubernatorial election. The Liberal Party, New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan are expected to support Ota. Meanwhile, Yokoyama was released the same day from the National Cardiovascular Center in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, where he underwent surgery for amphibolic stenocardia. Yokoyama has been charged with sexual molestation. He later issued a statement to apologize for the confusion he has caused by resigning.

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