FUKUOKA – Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has declined a request to run in next year’s Upper House election as a unified candidate for opposition parties, a former ruling party lawmaker said Monday.
The request from Ichiro Ozawa, head of the opposition Liberal Party, followed Koizumi’s recent call for cooperation among opposition parties. Koizumi is now critical of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, especially over its nuclear power policy.
The developments were revealed by Taku Yamasaki, former vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, during a speech in the city of Fukuoka.
According to Yamasaki, Ozawa tried to persuade Koizumi by saying that there would be no promising opposition-unifying candidate unless he stands. Ozawa also claimed that the former prime minister could garner more than 3 million votes.
During telephone talks with Yamasaki on Sunday, Koizumi was quoted as having said that he would not accept the request from Ozawa because he is now 76 years old.
Yamasaki said he’d responded by highlighting the recent political comeback of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is 93, but that Koizumi replied, “I won’t be moved by such talk.”