National / Politics

Anti-NHK party leader plans to step down from Upper House to run in Saitama by-election

by Sakura Murakami and Ryusei Takahashi

Staff Writers

Political rebel and leader of the controversial NHK Kara Kokumin o Mamoru To (Party to Protect the People from NHK) Takashi Tachibana announced Tuesday that he plans to step down as an Upper House lawmaker — for now.

Tachibana said he plans to run in a by-election for an Upper House seat in Saitama Prefecture, with the official campaign period starting Thursday. The voting day is Oct. 27.

The sudden announcement appears to be a strategic move for the party, given that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has no plans to field a candidate there — leaving smaller, weaker parties with a higher chance of winning the seat.

Tachibana had been calling on some well-known politicians to run for his party for the Saitama by-election. Among those he has asked is Mayuko Toyota, a lawmaker who was accused in late 2017 of verbally abusing her secretary. Toyota’s case was sent to prosecutors but her indictment was later suspended. She lost an election in 2017 and has not been in the public spotlight since.

Other people he had asked to run for his party included Kenta Aoshima, a former baseball player and sports writer.

Tachibana added he would not quit and run in the by-election if Toyota agrees to run on the party’s ticket.

“I still want to wait until the eleventh hour to hear back from Ms. Toyota,” Tachibana said in a short video clip released Tuesday announcing his resignation ahead of a news conference.

“Running for the Saitama post myself wasn’t on my mind when I asked the other three candidates for their help, but I couldn’t sleep” thinking about the possibility that no one from the anti-NHK would run, “so I decided to take on that role myself and quit being a national lawmaker for now,” he explained.

Tachibana is known for his inflammatory and controversial remarks. In late September, a video was uploaded to YouTube in which he suggested that, to solve overpopulation, people should be slaughtered in “countries that keep having idiotic children.” He clarified that he has no intention of pursuing this course of action, but said that committing genocide while letting the “smart people” live is an idea that’s difficult to accept for most people alive today.

He has also attacked TV personalities and lawmakers who have questioned his policies.

The party he leads runs on one policy proposal only — that the obligatory payment of subscription fees to national broadcaster NHK be abolished, and that a “scramble broadcasting” system, where only people who will watch the broadcaster’s shows are obliged to pay the fee, should be put in place instead.

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