• Kyodo

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— Author Makoto Oda, 68, on Saturday rejected a local citizens’ request to run in Hyogo Prefecture’s gubernatorial election, which is expected in late July in the wake of incumbent Gov. Toshitami Kaihara’s resignation announcement.

Earlier in the day, local citizens’ groups jointly launched a campaign to support Oda in the poll. They planned to distribute handbills and collect signatures today in Kobe’s Chuo Ward and had started the campaign without consulting the author, the groups said. , adding they abandoned the campaign after Oda’s decision became known.

A resident of the neighboring city of Nishinomiya, Oda is known for leading citizen’s movements calling for government support in the wake of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated the region, killing some 6,400.

As part of that effort, Oda drafted a bill to provide financial assistance to some of the victims, which was enacted in 1998 with support from nonpartisan lawmakers.

Acknowledging Oda’s achievements, the campaign group was hoping to establish a new way of local administration by having a nonbureaucrat as governor.

The gubernatorial election is expected to take place July 29, the same day as the House of Councilors election.

Ruling party forces in the prefectural assembly are planning to support Vice Gov. Toshizo Ido, 55, a former Home Affairs Ministry bureaucrat, in the race.

Gov. Kaihara, 67, is also a former Home Affairs bureaucrat.

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