• Compiled From Staff, Wire Reports

  • SHARE

Former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura has decided to run in the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election on Sept. 20, challenging Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, sources close to his faction said Sunday.

Komura’s candidacy comes as Koizumi appears to be leading the race because anti-Koizumi forces have so far failed to field a strong single challenger.

Komura, who heads a small faction in the LDP, will join an array of other anti-Koizumi contenders, including former LDP policy chief Shizuka Kamei, former Transport Minister Takao Fujii and Takashi Sasagawa, the LDP’s deputy secretary general.

Some political observers expect the LDP presidential election to be fought among Koizumi, Komura, Kamei and one or two others, with the anti-Koizumi forces poised to block Koizumi’s re-election by forming an alliance in a runoff.

Komura told a TV talk show Sunday morning: “I will run in the election if I can secure written support from 20 party members, as required by presidential election rules.”

Komura made the decision after holding talks with senior members of his faction, including former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tadamori Oshima and former Defense Agency chief Hideo Usui, the sources said.

With Komura expected to garner support from 20 lawmakers, his faction has begun drawing up campaign pledges to counter reform initiatives presented by Koizumi, including plans to privatize road corporations and Japan Post, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Hiromu Nonaka, a LDP heavyweight who is trying to field a candidate from a faction led by former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, said on another TV show: “If we fail to win a majority (in initial voting), joining forces (behind runnerup candidates) is possible.”

If no candidate wins a majority in the election, a runoff will be held between the first- and second-ranked finishers, according to election rules.

As Koizumi’s chances of winning in initial voting appear to be growing, anti-Koizumi forces are trying to field as many candidates possible to split votes and prevent Koizumi from securing a majority.

The power struggle within the LDP is expected to reach a showdown early this week, as the Hashimoto faction will hold a general meeting Tuesday and a faction led by Shizuka Kamei, who has expressed his intention to run, will hold a general meeting Monday.

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)