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Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2003

Osaka's Ohta announces she will seek second term


Staff writer

OSAKA -- Osaka Gov. Fusae Ohta formally announced Monday that she will seek a second term when her current term expires in February 2004.

"The revitalization of Osaka is not something that can be accomplished quickly and there is still much I want to do," she said.

Ohta was elected in February 2000 after a sexual harassment scandal precipitated the resignation of her populist predecessor, Knock Yokoyama.

She received unofficial support from the national leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan.

She also received private-sector backing from Kansai Economic Federation and senior business leaders.

But members of the LDP prefectural chapter rebelled at the choice of Ohta, an outsider they felt had been forced upon them by the national chapter.

The local chapter accordingly put up its own candidate.

Political analysts believe that Ohta won the previous election as a result of this LDP split and as a consequence of the support she garnered from New Komeito, which is especially strong in Osaka.

Ohta has declared this time, however, that she will run without official party support.

"I will not run under the banner of any political party. I will meet with a variety of parties and ask for their support, but I'll decide my own policies," she said.

Ohta added that she would wait until December to unveil her platform and would meet in the meantime with a variety of political and corporate groups to gather advice and support.

"I won't refuse money or assistance from a political party if they decide they want to donate to my campaign. But I won't make specific promises to a party in return for that assistance," she said.

Ohta has made the revitalization of the Osaka economy her top priority, pushing for investment in the fields of biotechnology and information technology. The city of Higashi Osaka, Ohta noted, is now a major center for such firms.

The governor also took credit for noneconomic accomplishments.



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