The Democratic Party of Japan and the Social Democratic Party said Friday they hope social critic Keiko Higuchi will run in the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial race against outspoken incumbent Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.
Naoto Kan, president of the DPJ, the nation’s main opposition party, said he thinks Higuchi would make a “good candidate,” while SDP Secretary General Mizuho Fukushima said her party “will probably move in the direction of supporting her,” although it has yet to decide on a candidate.
Kan was speaking to reporters in Tokyo, the same day the party’s executive members gathered in the Diet to discuss fielding its candidate in the April 13 gubernatorial race. They decided to take a wait-and-see stance over formally asking Higuchi to run.
According to party members who took part in the gathering, the decision to formally ask Higuchi to run in the race will depend on her response to the party’s earlier overtures.
Higuchi, 70, a professor at Tokyo Kasei University and an expert on women’s issues, social welfare and education policies, acknowledged Thursday night that she has been approached by the DPJ and said she will make a formal reply as soon as possible.
The members said they agreed in the meeting to fully support her, should she decide to run in the race, and asked her to run as an independent candidate. The matter will be further discussed Monday, they said.
Following the talks, DPJ Deputy Secretary General Kenji Kitahashi told reporters the party will continue to make efforts in working out who they will field in the gubernatorial race.
On Higuchi, Kitahashi described her as a person considered to be of “fine wisdom and character.”
The DPJ has been looking for a candidate to challenge Ishihara, also 70, who last week said he will run for a second four-year term.
A graduate of the University of Tokyo, Higuchi has been working as a freelance commentator on a wide-range of social issues after a stint as a journalist. Higuchi has also served on a variety of government advisory panels.
Yoshiharu Wakabayashi, head of the Tokyo chapter of the Japanese Communist Party, is also expected to run in the gubernatorial race.
The official campaign for the Tokyo gubernatorial race starts March 27.
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