National / Politics

Hosono may back Renho in DP leadership race

Kyodo

Democratic Party lawmaker Goshi Hosono has said he won’t run in the main opposition party’s leadership election next month, hinting that he may support Deputy President Renho, who said she will run last week. She has the support of the current party leadership.

“I will give it a miss this time,” Hosono, a former environment minister, told reporters Tuesday at the Diet. “When I think about who might be accepted by the public (as leader), Ms. Renho is an extremely strong candidate.”

Hosono is prominent among DP members who are in conflict with the party’s leadership. Throwing his support behind Renho would make it difficult for the anti-leadership camp to field a candidate who has a chance of defeating her.

In the past, Hosono has kept his distance from the DP leadership, which sought an electoral tie-up with the Japanese Communist Party.

Possible candidates from like-minded groups include Seiji Maehara, a former foreign minister and former party leader, and Akihisa Nagashima, former senior vice defense minister. If those groups had been able to field a joint candidate, they may have had a chance to win against Renho.

But with Hosono leaning toward supporting Renho, that plan is likely to be shattered.

When Hosono told DP lawmaker Michihiko Kano, who wants Hosono to run, of his decision on Saturday, Kano was so furious that he yelled at Hosono to get out.

Meanwhile, Maehara is still trying to rally support from other members to run. When he met with DP veteran lawmaker Hirotaka Akamatsu on Tuesday, Akamatsu said it was a bad idea to “bend one’s political philosophy and jump on the bandwagon.”

Maehara replied, “That’s what Hosono and others are doing.”

The leadership election is set to take place at an extraordinary party meeting on Sept. 15, following a campaign period beginning Sept. 2.

Current party head Katsuya Okada, who led the DP through its disappointing showing in the July 10 Upper House election, has said he will not seek re-election.

Hosono, 44, ran against and lost to Okada in a leadership election in January 2015.