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Former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, despite the strong urging of her supporters, stopped short Sunday of officially announcing her candidacy in a general election to be held in November.

However, Tanaka, who resigned from the House of Representatives in August 2002 following allegations that she misused her secretaries’ government-paid salaries, told a news conference in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, she feels “extremely honored” her supporters want her to return to national politics.

Earlier in the day, executives of Tanaka’s local support organization called on her in writing to run.

Tanaka told the news conference that Liberal Democratic Party rules stipulate that its members cannot obtain an official party endorsement for candidacy when membership is suspended.

LDP’s ethics committee suspended Tanaka’s membership in June 2002 for two years following a magazine report alleging the misappropriations.

Tuesday, prosecutors decided not to pursue a criminal case against Tanaka, saying she had not misused the money.

“(When her membership was suspended) I was told that I would be purged from the party for violating the party rules, if I should run under the present situation,” Tanaka said.

She said she will seek the LDP’s position early this week on what it would do if she decides to run.

Asked by reporters whether she would break away from the LDP to enter the election, Tanaka declined comment.

It is pretty much accepted Tanaka will seek to regain her Lower House seat in Niigata Prefecture’s No. 5 electoral district, the political fiefdom of the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, a powerful figure in the 1970s and her father.

Three other politicians have expressed their intention to run for that seat, including the 71-year-old incumbent, Yukio Hoshino, of the LDP.

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