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Veteran lawmaker Shizuka Kamei, who left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party due to his opposition to the postal reform bills, survived a challenge Sunday from Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie in the Hiroshima No. 6 district to retain his Diet seat.

Kamei, 68, was re-elected to the House of Representatives for the 10th consecutive time despite challenges by the 32-year-old independent Horie, a postal privatization advocate, and Koji Sato, 46, of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Little-known newcomer Yoji Ito, a 27-year-old former securities broker, also ran as an independent.

Kamei’s battle in the single-seat district became fierce after Horie, president of Internet services firm Livedoor Co., accepted Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s request to run against the LDP postal rebel.

Unlike the other so-called “assassin” candidates Koizumi fielded to counter the LDP postal rebels, Horie chose to compete as an independent so he could work without party constraints.

Kamei formed the People’s New Party with a handful of other bigwig LDP rebels, which meant there was no LDP candidate running in the district covering eight municipalities in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture.

Sato, who lost to Kamei in the last two general elections in 2000 and 2003 but managed to gain a proportional representation seat in the Lower House from the Chugoku block on both occasions, was again on the DPJ’s proportional representation list for the region this time.

LDP defector hangs on

TOYAMA (Kyodo) People’s New Party leader Tamisuke Watanuki retained his House of Representatives seat in the Toyama No. 3 district in Sunday’s election.

The 78-year-old former speaker of the Lower House defected from the Liberal Democratic Party after voting against Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s postal privatization bills.

He fended off four other candidates, including postal reform supporter Kyogon Hagiyama, 73, of the LDP and Eiji Mukai, 59, of the Democratic Party of Japan, to land his 13th term. He was first elected to the Lower House in 1959 and served as speaker from July 2000 to October 2003.

Watanuki was a key figure in opposing the bills to privatize Japan Post and was one of 37 LDP members in the Lower House who voted against them in July.

During the campaign, Watanuki criticized Koizumi’s political style, saying his postal privatization drive appeared to be spawning the illusion that everything will be solved with it.

Watanuki founded the new party Aug. 17 with other former LDP heavyweights to counter what they consider to be Koizumi’s rough treatment of party colleagues who voted against the postal bills.

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