• Kyodo


Embattled Tokushima Gov. Tadashi Ota, who was slapped with a no-confidence motion by the prefectural assembly last week, will resign and seek re-election, it was learned Saturday.

The formal announcement of Ota’s plans will come as early as Tuesday, after he secures the understanding of his support groups, sources close to the governor said.

On Thursday, the prefectural assembly approved a no-confidence motion against the governor. It was submitted by three opposition groups in the legislature and passed by a vote of 33 to nine. Ota had 10 days to decide whether to dissolve the legislature, resign or do nothing and automatically lose his job.

Ota scratched the option of dissolving the assembly because nationwide local elections are coming up next month, which means the legislators’ terms are almost over anyway, according to the sources.

He decided against doing nothing because Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka was criticized for choosing that option when he was slapped with a no-confidence motion last year, they said.

Ota is a vocal critic of a controversial plan to build a dam on the Yoshino River. He was elected to office in April last year, with the help of citizens’ groups, after his predecessor stepped down amid a bribery scandal.

Since taking office, he has repeatedly clashed with the prefectural assembly. Contentious issues have included his reviews of public works projects and his personnel appointments to an investigation team examining the former governor’s bribery case.

Ota has been forced to abandon many of his campaign pledges, such as a review of public works projects around Tokushima airport.

Ota’s critics have accused him of failing to attempt to create consensus with the assembly and handling prefectural administration in a self-righteous manner.

In submitting the motion, one assembly member said Ota has not even presented the assembly with candidates for deputy governor and that it is doubtful that the prefecture’s administration is working properly.

Citizens’ groups trying to wrest more assembly seats from existing political parties say they view the latest developments as a tail wind ahead of next month’s elections to the legislature.

Six people have already indicated they intend to run for the assembly, as Ota’s battles with the legislature have proven that it is impossible to change the course of prefectural politics by simply replacing the governor.

Sources close to Ota said such grassroots movements, and the extent to which such candidates win seats in the assembly, will hold the key to the governor’s re-election bid.

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