MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) The Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday asked popular Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru to run in the upcoming House of Representatives election, but the beleaguered ruling party failed to get the nod and instead received a bold counteroffer.

Higashikokubaru told LDP Election Strategy Council Chairman Makoto Koga, who conveyed the offer to the comedian-turned-politician at the Miyazaki Prefectural Government office, that he would only run on the LDP ticket if the party decides to list him as a candidate for party president, both men told reporters after their meeting.

The LDP apparently wants to win the support of independent voters by having the popular governor run on the party ticket, particularly after the approval ratings for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso, who heads the LDP, fell sharply in the latest opinion polls, reversing what had been a recovery trend.

A senior LDP official said the party is considering allowing Higashikokubaru to run in the proportional representation section of the election if he accepts the offer.

The 51-year-old Miyazaki governor was elected in January 2007 following the resignation of his predecessor over a bribery scandal.

The LDP asked him last October to consider running for a Lower House seat, when Nariaki Nakayama, an LDP member of the Lower House, resigned as transport minister after a series of verbal gaffes and said he would not run again, leaving his seat in the Miyazaki No. 1 district vacant.

Higashikokubaru ruled out his candidacy at that time, but said he might enter national politics in the future.

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