TV personality Kyosen Ohashi announced on Tuesday his intention to run in next month’s Upper House election on the Democratic Party of Japan ticket.

Speaking from a Los Angeles studio via satellite relay, Ohashi, 67, said he has decided to run due to a sense of crisis about the current public sentiment in Japan, which he said does not allow criticism of the hugely popular Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

“This is not democracy,” Ohashi said, citing opposition members’ receiving critical e-mail and telephone calls from the public after criticizing the prime minister.

“The trend makes me think of fascism that once led Japan to war,” he said.

Despite his eagerness, he said he will not be able to campaign in Japan because he will be busy working in Canada in July. Ohashi, whose real name is Katsumi Ohashi, plans to appeal to voters via satellite relay when the DPJ has gatherings.

DPJ Secretary General Naoto Kan asked Ohashi to run as a proportional representation candidate last month after he learned Ohashi was critical of Koizumi in newspaper columns.

A native of Tokyo, Ohashi went into semiretirement in 1990 after appearing on numerous TV programs.

He now lives alternately in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan and oversees a chain of souvenir shops in Canada and Oceania.

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