• Kyodo

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Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said Monday he will think carefully about whether to run in September’s Liberal Democratic Party presidential election because taking the post, which carries with it the job of prime minister, means “determining Japan’s future.”

“This is not something in which there is meaning in simply taking part. The election calls into question the future of the country and what we must think about in terms of specific policies to place priority on,” Nukaga said in a speech in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture.

“It’s not an issue on which we can decide easily, unlike the case of if we were to say let’s or let’s not play golf tomorrow,” he said, adding he wants to listen “seriously” to calls for him to become a candidate and think about it as a politician and a human being.

Some younger members of the LDP faction to which Nukaga belongs have been urging him to enter the race, and he has apparently told those close to him he would do so “if the situation allows.”

Nukaga, who is from Ibaraki Prefecture, hinted at the possibility that he could now give positive consideration to the matter, saying major issues involving the Defense Agency have just recently come under control.

“The Ground Self-Defense Force troops have withdrawn from Iraq and returned to Japan and we eased our state of alert against North Korea’s possible launch of the Taepodong (missile) last weekend,” he said.

“The Defense Agency seems to be returning to normal after going through a high level of tension,” he added.

Major contenders expected for the Sept. 20 LDP presidential election are Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, who is considered the front-runner, Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki.

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