Keiichiro Asao, a House of Councilors member of the Democratic Party of Japan, said Monday he will not run for governor of Kanagawa Prefecture.
His announcement puts an end to speculation that the Liberal Democratic Party would ask Asao to run in the April 13 race against a former DPJ lawmaker who has already announced his candidacy.
“I am honored to hear that people across party lines have tried to field me (for the race),” he said. “But after considering the roles I can play in local and national politics, I have decided to concentrate on national political issues, such as diplomacy.”
Last week, LDP sources said some of the party’s Diet members from Kanagawa Prefecture were considering asking the 39-year-old Asao to run in the race.
The local LDP chapter initially proposed fielding a former Finance Ministry bureaucrat, but Diet members rejected this idea because that candidate was expected to fare poorly against Shigefumi Matsuzawa, a House of Representatives member who left the DPJ earlier this month to run as an independent, the sources said.
After reports of the LDP’s plan surfaced, DPJ chief Naoto Kan said he would not allow Asao to run. in the Kanagawa election.
The Kanagawa chapter of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), a major supporter for the DPJ, also reportedly told Asao that the labor group would not support him if were to run on the LDP ticket.
The LDP was apparently hoping to split the votes of DPJ supporters by pitting Asao against Matsuzawa.
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