• Kyodo

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Kochi Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto said Thursday he would resign and call an election should the prefectural assembly pass a resolution urging him to step down.

Hashimoto, 57, has been criticized over financial irregularities tied to his first campaign to become governor in 1991.

It is not clear whether the resolution calling for his resignation, which is not legally binding, would be approved by the 41-member assembly when it is put to a vote on Friday.

One seat is vacant and the assembly chairman does not take part in the vote, meaning that support from 20 members is needed to pass the resolution.

The resolution was submitted by Liberal Democratic Party members, who comprise the largest group of 15, including the chairman. Another group opposing Hashimoto has four members.

New Komeito, which is taking a neutral position on the matter, has three members, and other groups normally supportive of Hashimoto are undecided on the resolution.

The governor’s remarks were widely perceived as an attempt to keep the assembly in check by dangling the possibility of a gubernatorial election.

The financial scandal first broke last year after Hashimoto secured his fourth term.

The former head of the secretariat of his support group said he borrowed 100 million yen from the group’s chairman in October 1991, repaying the money using funds offered by a construction firm that later secured a prefectural contract to build a dam.

On Thursday, Hashimoto denied knowing anything about the allegations.

Okayama race starts

OKAYAMA (Kyodo) Campaigning began Thursday for the Oct. 24 Okayama gubernatorial election, with the incumbent and another independent contender registering their candidacies.

The Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito, Democratic Party of Japan and Social Democratic Party are backing independent incumbent Masahiro Ishii, 58, who has served two four-year terms. The Japanese Communist Party has endorsed Akio Hirai, 60, a former director of the prefectural committee of a social security promotion group.

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