Actor Takuro Tatsumi has been asked again by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to run in next month’s Osaka gubernatorial election, sources familiar with the situation said Sunday.
A senior member of the party headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with the 60-year-old Osaka native, who has appeared in dramas and entertainment shows, in Tokyo on Friday and formally made the request, according to the sources.
Tatsumi is expected to decide within days whether to enter the race, which will take place at the same time as the nationwide round of local elections on April 7.
On Friday, Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura tendered their resignations in a rare and risky bid to seek re-election to each other’s positions in order to give fresh momentum to their long-held ambition to reshape the city into a metropolitan government system akin to Tokyo’s.
Matsui and Yoshimura are the head and policy chief, respectively, of local political group Osaka Ishin no Kai.
By seeking re-election on the same day as the nationwide local elections, they hope to give a boost to their group, which does not hold a majority in either the Osaka prefectural or city assemblies.
Under Japanese election law, if the two leaders sought re-election in their current positions, fresh elections would have to be held when their original four-year terms expire later this year.
Matsui and Yoshimura were both first elected in November 2015 on a platform to resurrect the metropolis plan originally drafted by former Osaka Gov. and Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who sought to save taxpayer money by reducing functional overlaps between the prefectural and municipal governments.
Ahead of the 2015 double mayor and governor election, the LDP asked Tatsumi to be its candidate, but he declined.
After graduating from Kyoto University, Tatsumi made his national debut in the NHK drama “Romance” in 1984. He is also known as a food and wine connoisseur.