OSAKA – Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) ironed out a fresh rift Monday by deciding to vote for party chief Shintaro Ishihara when the Diet nominates candidates for prime minister on Dec. 26, a senior party official said Monday.
Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui, Nippon Ishin’s secretary general, said the party has reached a consensus to vote for Ishihara following reports of a split over who to nominate after the “third-force” leader took 54 seats in Sunday’s general election, which the Liberal Democratic Party won by a landslide.
“We have now unified ourselves and will vote for Mr. Ishihara,” Matsui said on a TV program.
The Osaka-based party was the strongest in the so-called third force to run in the election and will be the third-largest entity in the 480-seat House of Representatives, after the LDP and the Democratic Party of Japan.
But Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, Nippon Ishin’s No. 2, spoke with other senior party officials Sunday night about voting for LDP leader Shinzo Abe — an act Ishihara lambasted as “out of the question.”
On a separate TV program on Monday, Ishihara said he approved of the new consensus plan and quoted Hashimoto as saying he has “absolutely no plans” to vote for Abe.
Speaking about the nomination issue, Hashimoto explained he had “made remarks that could be misunderstood in the context of his lack of experience in national politics,” according to Ishihara.
The LDP won 294 seats in Sunday’s election, virtually assuring Abe will become the nation’s seventh prime minister in six years.