National / Politics

Once ousted from Diet, Watanabe makes comeback with Upper House win

Kyodo

Yoshimi Watanabe, who led the now-defunct Your Party, staged a political comeback Sunday after winning a House of Councilors seat 1½ years after he was voted out of the Lower House.

“The story of my ‘revenge’ starts today. I would like to restart from scratch and work hard,” Watanabe, 64, who ran for Osaka Ishin no Kai in the proportional representation section, told around 150 supporters in Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture on Sunday.

Watanabe lost his parliamentary seat in the December 2014 House of Representatives election following revelations earlier that year that he had received undeclared loans totaling more than ¥800 million from a cosmetics firm executive.

Prosecutors later decided not to charge him with violating the Political Funds Control Law.

During the Upper House campaign, Watanabe pledged to promote political forces other than the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the main opposition force, the Democratic Party.

He was a six-term Lower House member when he lost his seat in 2014.

Watanabe first won a Lower House seat in 1996 on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket, inheriting the power base of his father, Michio Watanabe, who served in such posts as deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

After leaving the LDP, Watanabe formed Your Party in 2009 with the aim of reforming Japanese politics.

Watanabe quit as leader of Your Party amid the scandal and the party was disbanded in November 2014 at a time of internal discord.

“I would like to make up for my failures as Your Party head by drumming up support for a third force” after the ruling bloc and the DP-led opposition, he said.