• Kyodo

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Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru said Wednesday he will decline to seek a second four-year term in December’s gubernatorial election.

The entertainer-turned governor said that he has been thinking there is a limit to what a prefectural governor can do.

“I’ve decided not to run in the next election in the belief that changing the nation’s system will serve the interest of Miyazaki,” he said.

Higashikokubaru, whose term expires in January, was coy about his future plans.

“I don’t know what the next stage will be,” he said.

Media reports have speculated that he might run in the Tokyo gubernatorial race next April or pursue a seat in the House of Representatives.

However, since the prefecture is still facing the enormous challenge of revitalizing its economy — including its battered livestock industry — Higashikokubaru is likely to take flak for leaving it in a lurch.

Higashikokubaru’s tenure was highlighted by a crippling foot-and-mouth epidemic earlier this year that ravaged one of the nation’s most prosperous livestock industries. The farm ministry said last week that all cows in Miyazaki have since tested negative for the disease, bolstering views the problem is under control.

But his goal of cutting Miyazaki’s outstanding debt to ¥863.2 billion by March 31 appears doomed as total IOUs are on track to hit an all-time high of ¥961.0 billion by then.

Higashikokubaru won the governorship in a resounding victory in January 2007 when his predecessor stepped down over a bid-rigging scandal.

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