Tokyo’s No. 3 constituency, encompassing Shinagawa and northern Ota wards as well as the Izu Islands, has captured heavy media attention ahead of the Nov. 9 general election, as one of Japan’s most well-known political families hopes to put yet another member in office.
Hirotaka Ishihara, 39, announced in September his intention to run in the constituency for the Lower House seat on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket.
The former Industrial Bank of Japan and Mizuho Financial Group employee’s father is popular Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and his older brother is Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Nobuteru Ishihara, who is also running for re-election from Tokyo’s No. 8 constituency, which covers Suginami Ward.
Hirotaka’s older brother, Yoshizumi, is an actor, and the late movie star Yujiro Ishihara was his uncle.
“I would pledge my greatest efforts to create a nation where people can have dreams,” Hirotaka said before nearly 1,000 people who gathered at a Tokyo hotel for his Oct. 22 campaign kickoff.
Ishihara claims he was inspired to enter politics by the late Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino, a longtime friend of his father’s who was assassinated in summer 1983 as he stepped off a jet at the Manila airport on returning to his country from exile.
Hirotaka was staying at Aquino’s Boston home at the time, where he was a freshman at Boston University. He said he hopes to become a politician with a strong will like Aquino.
With his family well established in politics, the former banker is considered a strong candidate even though he has no political experience.
When Hirotaka launched his campaign, his father, who came to support him, brushed aside media criticism that the family is making politics its business.
“People criticize our family, saying we are trying to build up the Ishihara brand in Japanese politics, but none of us can become a Diet member without voter support,” said the governor, himself an ex-LDP Diet member.
The junior Ishihara’s main contender is Jin Matsubara, 47, of the Democratic Party of Japan, who held the seat before the poll.
Matsubara, who indirectly labeled Ishihara a candidate from an elite family, has stressed that he has been a lawmaker who represents the views of the commoner, the general public.
Matsubara last month noted that a large portion of LDP politicians are second- and third-generation Diet members who inherited their fathers’ and grandfathers’ support groups.
“Second- and third-generation Diet members cannot carry out structural reform of the government because their cozy ties with bureaucrats were established by their fathers and grandfathers,” he said.
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