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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Saturday his Liberal Democratic Party may put postal rebel Eita Yashiro on the party’s roster for the Tokyo proportional representation block in the Sept. 11 election.

If Yashiro is given an LDP endorsement, he would be the only exception in Koizumi’s strategy of not endorsing the 37 Lower House lawmakers from the party who voted against postal privatization.

“The party’s headquarters is currently discussing the issue, and I will make a decision after hearing the conclusion of the discussion,” Koizumi said in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture.

Yashiro, a 68-year-old former posts and telecommunications minister, had initially planned to run in his Tokyo No. 12 district as an independent but gave up the idea on Aug. 18 at the LDP’s request.

The LDP asked Yashiro not to run there because the party considers it a key district in its cooperative relationship with coalition ally New Komeito.

The LDP does not plan to field its own candidate in the district and instead is supporting Akihiro Ota, acting secretary general of New Komeito.

Asked to comment on the news, Yashiro said he is “grateful if the party is seriously considering” putting him on the LDP’s proportional representation roster.

However, the move may incur criticism that the LDP leadership is using a double standard against the postal dissenters.

Under instructions from Koizumi, the LDP has fielded rival candidates in most of the single-seat districts where the postal rebels are running for re-election.

Ishihara backs off

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has opted not to campaign in the Sept. 11 election for Koki Kobayashi, one of the opponents of postal privatization in the Liberal Democratic Party and a target of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s retribution.

Ishihara told a news conference he will only campaign for some former metropolitan assembly members in the Lower House election, virtually retracting an earlier plan to back Kobayashi.

He told reporters Aug. 12 he would throw his weight behind Kobayashi because “he is a friend. I cannot let him lose. He is struggling.”

There has been a question mark over whether Ishihara would actually support Kobayashi because Environment Minister Yuriko Koike is to run on the LDP ticket in Kobayashi’s Tokyo No. 10 district, which covers Toshima Ward and part of Nerima Ward.

Last Sunday, Kobayashi, with some other opponents of postal privatization, formed New Party Nippon after leaving Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party. He plans to run in the election on the new party’s ticket.

Ishihara’s third oldest son, Hirotaka, plans to run in the Tokyo No. 3 district on the LDP ticket.

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