Etsuko Kawada, mother of an HIV-infected crusader for justice, and three others filed candidacies Tuesday for an Oct. 22 by-election in Tokyo’s No. 21 single-seat constituency to fill a House of Representatives seat left vacant by a disgraced lawmaker.
Former Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Joji Yamamoto, 38, resigned recently over fraud allegations.
Also standing are Teiko Kudo, a Kokubunji city worker backed by the Social Democratic Party; Akihisa Nagashima, a foreign affairs expert backed by the DPJ; and Sekiichi Kato, a former Tachikawa politician backed by the Liberal Democratic Party.
Kawada’s son, Ryuhei, 24, was infected with HIV through tainted hemophilia blood products.
He was the first HIV-infected plaintiff in a lawsuit to have his name released.
The constituency covers Tachikawa, where there was once a huge U.S. military base. The cities of Kokubunji and Kodaira, where Kawada lives, are adjacent to the constituency.
Last month, with her son and House of Councilors lawmaker Atsuo Nakamura — a longtime supporter of HIV victims — at her side, Kawada announced her candidacy as an independent.
The upcoming by-election — along with another in Shiga Prefecture to fill a House of Councilors seat vacated by lawmaker Tenzo Okumura — is the first to be held under the newly revised Public Offices Election Law, which limits by-elections for both Diet chambers to twice a year.
Both by-elections are also the first Diet polls since the June 25 general election, in which Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s LDP suffered a huge setback, although the LDP-led three-party ruling coalition managed to hang onto its majority.
Since 1995, when her son became the first HIV-infected person to have his name released in relation to a 1989 class-action lawsuit, Kawada has written four books about her fight against the negligence of the government and the pharmaceutical firms that sold imported HIV-tainted blood products, while aware of the risks.
The Japanese Communist Party, in a policy change, said it has canceled its plan to support Susumu Suzuki, 60, a JCP member, and will instead support Kawada.
Back for sixth term
TOYAMA (Kyodo) Yutaka Nakaoki was easily re-elected Monday as governor of Toyama, entering his sixth four-year term after trouncing a candidate backed by the Japanese Communist Party, final returns showed.
Nakaoki, 73, supported by the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito, the New Conservative Party and the Democratic Party of Japan, beat Fukuji Higashiyama, 61, chairman of the prefectural labor union federation.
Nakaoki collected 297,447 votes, compared with 88,409 votes for Higashiyama.
Nakaoki becomes the third sitting governor in Japan serving a sixth term, following Oita Gov. Morihiko Hiramatsu and Miyazaki Gov. Suketaka Matsukata.
But voter interest in the two-way race was low, with the turnout at an all-time low of 43.91 percent of the 909,059 registered voters, surpassing a previous record low of 45.24 percent set in the 1980 gubernatorial race.
Nakaoki campaigned on achievements made during his past 20 years in office and pledged to improve the transportation infrastructure and promote new industries in the conservative prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.
Higashiyama criticized the Nakaoki administration for incurring fiscal deficits of some 860 billion yen and promised to work for fiscal reconstruction and to improve social welfare, education and living standards.
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