Hiraoka to run as independent


Former Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka declared Thursday that he plans to run in the April 28 Upper House by-election in Yamaguchi Prefecture as an independent.

The 59-year-old member of the Democratic Party of Japan, who lost his Lower House seat in last December’s general election, plans to run as an independent in order to garner support from other opposition parties but will still be backed by the DPJ.

The by-election will be the first Diet poll since the Liberal Democratic Party regained power in the December election, which led to the DPJ’s ouster.

“We haven’t been able to hold healthy policy debates because the LDP is leaning to the right too much,” Hiraoka told reporters in the city of Yamaguchi. “We will bring together a wide range of political forces against the LDP.”

DPJ chief Banri Kaieda said the by-election will be an important contest in the run-up to the July House of Councilors election. “My party will give (Hiraoka) utmost support.”