Yamasaki declares bid to win back Fukuoka Diet seat

Former Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Taku Yamasaki said Wednesday he will run in April’s by-election in Fukuoka Prefecture in a bid to retake the Diet seat he lost in the 2003 general election.

“I want to return to the national political arena, whatever it takes,” Yamasaki said during a New Year’s party in the city of Fukuoka, announcing his intention to run as an LDP candidate for the Lower House seat in the Fukuoka No. 2 constituency.

The Democratic Party of Japan will field Masanori Hirata, described only as an employee at a foreign investment firm.

Yamasaki, a close friend of Prime Minister and LDP President Junichiro Koizumi, is serving as a special adviser to Koizumi.

Some members of the LDP are pressuring Yamasaki to step down from the post to prepare for the election, saying another loss would weaken the unity of the faction he heads.

The by-election is being held to fill the seat vacated by former DPJ lawmaker Junichiro Koga, who resigned in September after lying about his academic records.

Yamasaki, who had held the seat for over 30 years, lost to Koga in the November 2003 general election after he was embroiled in a sex scandal.

The Diet race will be the first since the House of Councilors election last July, when the DPJ outperformed the LDP.