It appeared almost certain Sunday night that former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone will not run in the upcoming general election and will retire from politics, according to sources close to his support group.
Meanwhile, sources at the Liberal Democratic Party indicated the party leadership will propose to the government that Nakasone be given a honorary post, such as special adviser to the Cabinet, upon his retirement.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a TV debate program Sunday he is sticking with the LDP’s decision to enforce “without exception” an age limit of 73 for candidates.
On Monday, the day before the official launch of campaigning for the Nov. 9 Lower House election, the LDP will formally decide on, and unveil, its official list of candidates for the proportional representation blocs, which will exclude Nakasone.
The LDP sources said the 85-year-old Nakasone will not appear on the official party ticket in either the single-seat constituency or proportional representation segments.
In theory, Nakasone could seek re-election by running as an independent in one of the five single-seat districts in his native Gunma Prefecture.
However, the LDP has already officially endorsed a candidate for the No. 4 and No. 5 districts, the most likely constituencies for his candidacy. The official candidates are Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and Yuko Obuchi, daughter of the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. Both are favorites in their respective districts.
Top executives in Nakasone’s local support group and of the LDP’s intraparty faction to which Nakasone belongs are advising him not to run as an independent, the sources said.
Nakasone is scheduled to visit Gunma Prefecture on Tuesday, when the campaign officially kicks off, to announce his final decision on his political fate.
He is most likely to announce his retirement there, the sources said.
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