Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie confirmed Friday he will challenge Shizuka Kamei, one of the leading foes of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s postal privatization drive, in the Sept. 11 general election.
Horie, 32, will run for election in the Hiroshima No. 6 constituency as an independent candidate.
The Internet maverick unveiled his intentions at a news conference following a meeting with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who also serves as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, at LDP headquarters in Tokyo.
Kamei, a former LDP policy chief, was one of the ruling party rebels who drove the campaign to get Koizumi’s postal privatization bills shot down in the Diet.
Kamei has since left the LDP and helped launch Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party).
The LDP will give Horie indirect election support by not fielding its own candidate in the same constituency, which covers eastern Hiroshima.
Horie told reporters he hopes to promote reforms centering on postal privatization.
“Thinking about the future of Japan, I and (the prime minister) share the same spirit, totally agreeing to push for reforms,” Horie said. “I fully back postal privatization in view of Japan’s future.”
Asked why he was running in the Hiroshima No. 6 constituency, Horie said he had made the decision because no one supporting postal privatization had planned to run there.
But speculation is rife that Horie, by running against Kamei, aims to increase media exposure for his IT investment company, which runs a search engine, among other IT-related businesses.
Since he launched a hostile takeover bid against Nippon Broadcasting System Inc. earlier this year, hits on the Web portal have risen dramatically.
Livedoor became a household name after Horie made headlines last year via his foiled bid to set up a new professional baseball team. The move was touted by some as a bold challenge to the closed circle of major companies that own teams.
Meanwhile, Kamei, appearing on a TV show earlier the day, said he would run only in the single-seat constituency of Hiroshima and would not submit his name for election via the the proportional representation segment.
Many candidates have been elected via this backup route after being defeated in their single-seat constituencies.
“I have no intention of wearing a Diet member badge if people in my constituency say ‘no’ to me,” he said. “I should retire when I lose the confidence of my constituents.”
Regarding Horie, Kamei said: “I would take it as a chance for me to promote public understanding of my ideals and policies.
“However, I cannot help wondering what a man who thinks he can buy anything with money is trying to do with politics.”
Asked whether he will cooperate with the LDP after the election or return to the ruling party, Kamei said, “I think not only Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi but many of its senior members have gone wrong. Whether we can cooperate depends on how they can change.”
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