• Kyodo

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Mie Gov. Masayasu Kitagawa said Thursday he will not seek a return to the House of Representatives next year from the No. 2 constituency in Mie Prefecture.

Kitagawa, 58, dismissed speculation by announcing at a news conference he is “100 percent sure” he will not run in the election for the single-seat district, which includes his native city of Suzuka.

On Monday, Kitagawa said he has decided not to seek re-election as governor in an election scheduled for April, sparking speculation he would seek a Lower House seat.

There has been speculation that Masaharu Nakagawa of the Democratic Party of Japan may surrender his Lower House seat from the No. 2 constituency and run in the April gubernatorial election, and that Kitagawa would run in a subsequent by-election to fill Nakagawa’s seat, thereby making a return to national-level politics.

Kitagawa also said he probably will not run from another district in a general election that is to be held by 2004, but he added the caveat that he is unsure what the future holds.

He was first elected to the Lower House in 1983, and was re-elected three times before winning the 1995 Mie gubernatorial election as an independent.

Known for his reform-minded politics, Kitagawa won an overwhelming victory in 1999, backed by the Liberal Democratic Party, the DPJ and New Komeito.

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