The Liberal Democratic Party is reportedly considering an unusual tactic for the Kanagawa gubernatorial election in April — fielding a current Diet member of the Democratic Party of Japan.
According to LDP sources, party lawmakers elected from Kanagawa Prefecture want to ask Keiichiro Asao, a 39-year-old Upper House member, to run in the April 13 race.
Another DPJ lawmaker, Shigefumi Matsuzawa of the Lower House, has already announced his candidacy.
The LDP is apparently trying to divide the votes of DPJ supporters and prevent Matsuzawa from being elected by fielding another lawmaker from the same party.
Asao has declined comment. “I can say nothing at this point since I have not received any request (from the LDP) to run,” he told Kyodo News.
He was elected to the Upper House in 1998 and is in his first term. He won the most votes among the six successful candidates in the Kanagawa district.
One reason that Asao is being favored by the LDP is that New Komeito, one of the LDP’s ruling coalition partners, supported Asao in the 1998 race, the sources said.
According to the sources, the LDP’s Kanagawa chapter initially planned to field a former Finance Ministry bureaucrat in the race. However, LDP Diet members elected from the prefecture opposed the plan, saying a former bureaucrat will not be able to win against Matsuzawa, the sources said.
The local LDP chapter has since decided to support Asao on condition that he leaves the DPJ. Some LDP lawmakers have already approached local business leaders to back Asao, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Matsuzawa visited the Yokohama Municipal Government office Friday and asked Mayor Hiroshi Nakada to support his campaign.
Both Matsuzawa and Nakada are graduates of the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, also known as Matsushita Seikeijuku.
Nakada reportedly said he would make a decision by examining Matsuzawa’s campaign platform.
Asked by reporters about the LDP’s plans to field Asao for the gubernatorial race, Matsuzawa said, “It is up to Mr. Asao to decide, and I think voters will give their judgment.”
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