National

Singer, skier, Korean win seats

Some unusual candidates triumph in proportional segment

Okinawa singer and peace activist Shokichi Kina, one of the celebrity hopefuls who ran in Sunday’s House of Councilors election, won a seat in the Diet.

Kina ran on the proportional representation ticket of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Kina’s popularity as a musician dates back to the 1970s and he has also been a prominent champion of the Constitution and human rights.

Kina, 56, garnered 178,815 votes, giving him one of the 19 seats the DPJ won out of the 48 in the proportional representation segment.

The party fielded 26 proportional representation candidates and Kina placed 11th on the list.

In the election campaign, he focused on a peace platform, especially efforts to protect the war-renouncing clause of the Constitution.

Speaking to reporters after learning he had won, Kina scorned the way Japanese politics are subservient to the United States and said this problem must be addressed.

“Japan is not independent of America. War does not look good on Japan. Peace does,” he said, an apparent reference to Koizumi’s support of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and deployment of Self-Defense Forces troops there.

The 56-year-old native of the city of Okinawa has been a familiar face in antiwar rallies.

In February 2003, a month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Kina and his band performed a concert in Baghdad titled “No Wars But Celebration!”

He also accuses the government of placing more importance on the security alliance with the United States than on the interests of Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan.

Some DPJ members, however, look askance at their new colleague, given that some of his views and ideas run counter to DPJ policies, particularly his advocacy of independence for Okinawa.

But Kina shrugged off such criticism, saying, “The DPJ is by nature a party of contradictions.”

Korean connection

Also among the DPJ proportional representation ticket winners was Shinkun Haku, a former journalist who is half Korean.

Haku, 45, a Tokyo native, headed the Japan bureau of the South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo until February. He received support from the lay Buddhist group Rissho Kosei-kai, particularly its female members active in election campaigning.

“I want to be an instrument for promoting new friendly relations between Japan and South Korea,” Haku said at his campaign office in Tokyo shortly after 2:30 a.m. Monday.

Olympian win

Among the successful celebrity candidates on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s proportional representation ticket was Olympic gold medalist Kenji Ogiwara, 34, who led the Japanese Nordic combined skiing team to golds in 1992 and 1994.

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