National / Politics

Former interior minister Masuda to run for Tokyo governor on LDP ticket

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Former internal affairs minister Hiroya Masuda on Sunday said in a statement sent to media outlets that he will run for Tokyo governor in the July 31 election.

Masuda, 64, also a former governor of Iwate, is expected to receive the blessing of the LDP’s Tokyo chapter on Monday morning, leaving fellow mayoral hopeful Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister, without party backing.

An LDP Lower House member Koike, 63, declared her candidacy last week, saying she will run whether the party backs her or not.

Masuda is set to announce his campaign pledges at a news conference Monday. He will focus on promoting regional revitalization and sustainable growth in the capital, media reports have said.

Masuda drew attention in 1995 when, at the age of 43, he became governor of Iwate — the nation’s youngest ever governor.

He spent 12 years in the role before being tapped as internal affair minister in 2007 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Masuda headed a panel of experts in the Japan Policy Council think tank, which in 2014 predicted that nearly half of Japan’s municipalities will gray at such a rate that by 2040 the proportion of young women in their 20s and 30s will be less than half the level in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s Tokyo chapter has not decided yet which candidate to support. It has reportedly been considering either former Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, 58, or Shigeaki Koga, 60, a former senior official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Matsuzawa is undecided about whether to run.

Lawyer and anti-poverty activist Kenji Utsunomiya, 69, is expected to throw his hat into the ring on Monday afternoon.

A former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Utsunomiya has twice before run for mayor.

And TV personality Junichi Ishida has said he is ready to run if all opposition parties unite behind him.

The Tokyo governor’s seat became vacant after Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe stepped down last month amid a political funds scandal.

Information from Kyodo added