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Taisuke Ono, vice governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, has announced plans to run in the July 5 Tokyo gubernatorial election as an independent.

“What is needed is a debate on what Tokyo should become, instead of there being no discussion,” Ono, 46, said Tuesday at a news conference in the city of Kumamoto. He is expected to run on a campaign of supporting businesses hit by the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Ono, who is originally from Tokyo, said he has both Tokyo and regional perspectives.

“There are many young leaders,” such as Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura, he added. Ono said no political party is supporting his bid at the moment.

He declined to directly criticize incumbent Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, 67, who plans to run for re-election. “I’ve been working in the Kumamoto Prefectural Government for 12 years, so I don’t want to just criticize.”

Ono studied at the University of Tokyo under then-professor Ikuo Kabashima, who is now governor of Kumamoto.

After working at a foreign-affiliated consulting firm and as a secretary to a lawmaker of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Ono became a policy coordination adviser at the Kumamoto Prefectural Government in 2008.

He has been serving as vice governor since 2012.

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