• Kyodo

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Kochi Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto has poured cold water on his brother Ryutaro’s candidacy in the race to choose the successor to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, saying he thinks his brother should not serve as the nation’s leader twice.

“In my personal opinion, I do not want my brother to make a comeback as the prime minister,” Hashimoto told a news conference Tuesday. “However, should he be elected, I would support him.”

His half brother, Ryutaro, 63, currently serving as minister in charge of administration reform, is a contender in Tuesday’s presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The winner of the race is expected to become the prime minister due to the LDP-led coalition’s majority in the powerful House of Representatives.

Ryutaro Hashimoto, who became prime minister in January 1996, was forced to step down in July 1998 after the LDP suffered a major setback in the House of Councilors election. At that time, he was blamed for crushing a fragile economic upturn with his ill-timed attempts to regain the nation’s fiscal health.

Asked about his brother’s rival in the race, former Health Minister Junichiro Koizumi, 59, who is reportedly leading the race among rank-and-file local chapter LDP members, Daijiro Hashimoto said support for Koizumi stems from a sense of crisis among the party members.

“I believe it is simply because they want a better safety valve,” Hashimoto said.

The 53-year-old popular governor also said the defeat of Kaneyuki Muraoka, a candidate backed by the LDP in Sunday’s Akita gubernatorial race, is a symptom of the waning strength of political parties, which do not take into account the consequences of conventional campaign styles in recent elections to select local government chiefs.

Candidates in recent gubernatorial elections have won without the backing of any political party, beating out those relying on organized votes.

Hashimoto, serving his third four-year term in Kochi Prefecture, has won three elections without official backing of any political party.

Ishihara sees ‘necrosis’

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said the Liberal Democratic Party is in a “state of necrosis” and he has no expectations for the LDP ahead of its presidential election next week.

“The Keisei-kai, an LDP faction led by the late Prime Ministers Kakuei Tanaka and Noboru Takeshita, crippled Japanese politics,” the outspoken governor said of his former party in an interview with Kyodo News this week. “(Politicians) all think about defending their own interests.”

Under a different name, the faction is currently led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, one of four LDP lawmakers running for president of the party on Tuesday.

The public is fed up with the LDP and other existing political parties, said Ishihara, a former transport minister and LDP Diet legislator. Political groups will remain in turmoil until they seriously reflect on their past actions, he added.

“I never ever plan to return to the LDP. I could form a new party to get rid of the LDP,” he said. “A political party is not an authority, but a tool. One can create a new tool if a party loses its (effectiveness).”

As for public demands that he become prime minister, Ishihara said, “It’s good to hear such voices. I just listen to what they say.”

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