• Kyodo

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Actor-turned-politician Taro Yamamoto, leader of the anti-establishment party Reiwa Shinsengumi, announced his candidacy Monday for the Tokyo gubernatorial election next month, in which incumbent Yuriko Koike is widely expected to be re-elected.

Yamamoto, 45, pledged at a news conference to make the cancellation of the Tokyo Games his first order of business should he be elected governor in the July 5 poll.

He also promised to provide all residents of the capital a relief handout of ¥100,000 ($934) each in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party already set to back rival Kenji Utsunomiya, 73, former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Yamamoto’s entrance into the race will likely result in votes being split between the major opposition parties.

Yamamoto had said during a radio program Saturday that the chances of him running in the election, for which campaigning will begin Thursday, was “50-50.”

His grassroots party, formed in April 2019, secured two seats in the House of Councilors election last July, with two severely disabled candidates winning.

Koike, 67, who is running without the backing of any party, faces sparse opposition in the upcoming election, with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party opting not to field a challenger.

In addition to Yamamoto and Utsunomiya, Taisuke Ono, 46, who recently quit as vice Kumamoto governor, is considering running in the race with support from the opposition Japan Innovation Party.

Takashi Tachibana, 52, head of a fringe party calling for public broadcaster NHK to be dismantled, is also expected to announce his candidacy.

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