OSAKA — Ota, formerly a senior trade ministry official, announced Monday that she will run in the Osaka gubernatorial election with the backing of several parties. The election, to be held Feb. 6, is to fill the post left vacant by Gov. “Knock” Yokoyama, who resigned after being indicted for sexually molesting a woman aide in his re-election campaign last year. Speaking at a news conference in Osaka, Ota, 48, a former councilor in the Secretariat at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, said, “I mustered my courage to make this decision to get involved in the local administration.” She said she will put measures for economic recovery and to promote administrative and fiscal reforms high on her political agenda. “Osaka is a place where I spend weekends with my husband, who runs a small manufacturing factory. I want to bring Osaka alive with the participation of ordinary people,” said Ota, who, if elected, would be the first female governor in the country. The Osaka arm of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) and the Kansai Economic Federation (Kankeiren) had asked Ota to run for governor, launching a support group on Dec. 29 and calling on other parties to join them. Although the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners — the Liberal Party and New Komeito — as well as the opposition Democratic Party of Japan have declared their formal support for Ota, the LDP’s Osaka prefectural chapter disagrees. It is refusing to back Ota because it believes the main LDP chapter ignored its advice on selecting a candidate, the sources said. On Monday, the chapter decided to support Tatsuto Hiraoka, 59, senior managing director of Osaka-based private school group Seifu Gakuen, as its local candidate. Kansai University Professor Emeritus Makoto Ajisaka, 66, put forward by the Japanese Communist Party, has already announced his candidacy for the governorship.
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