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Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008

Noda wins 'madonna' turf war as LDP shunts Sato to Tokyo

One-time Koizumi 'assassin' candidate agrees to yield


Staff writer

A political dispute between two "madonna" lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party both contesting a ticket to run for Gifu's No. 1 district finally came to an end Friday after the party announced that Yukari Sato will run for Tokyo, rather than Gifu, in the next Lower House election.

News photo
Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers Seiko Noda (left) and Yukari Sato attend a news conference Friday at LDP headquarters in Tokyo. KYODO PHOTO

Sato will be the LDP's official candidate for Tokyo's No. 5 district — stretching over Meguro Ward and part of Setagaya Ward — while her rival, Seiko Noda, a former post minister, grabbed the party's ticket for the Gifu seat, LDP executives announced during a news conference held at the party's headquarters in Tokyo.

The two have been contesting the Gifu ticket since Noda, who quit the LDP in 2005 after voting against then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's postal privatization plan, returned to the party after being re-elected by the Gifu district as an independent.

Sato, who was sent as the LDP's "assassin" candidate to beat Noda, failed to win in Gifu but captured a Lower House seat because she was also listed as one of the LDP's candidates for the proportional representation bloc.

To stress that the two women are on friendly terms, a moderator of the news conference asked the two women to shake hands. Standing exposed to the camera flashes and rolling video cameras, Sato and Noda smiled and shook hands firmly.

LDP Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki, who was also present at the news conference, said the two women had agreed to cooperate with each other to win the next Lower House election.

"For the past several years, the person I wanted to become closest to, to talk about Japanese politics, Gifu and world peace, was Yukari Sato," Noda said. "Due to our situation over electoral districts, we could not do as we wished, but I would like to promise that from now on, we will join hands together and cooperate as fellow female lawmakers."

Meanwhile, Sato expressed her appreciation that the LDP found her another home.

"As a party member, I think I should accept the party's decision in a rational manner — that is the attitude with which I would like to continue," Sato said.

Sato also added that she would ask her supporters in Gifu to now unite behind Noda.

Similar conflicts have erupted in five other constituencies, but the LDP has still to make decisions regarding the candidates.



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The Japan Times

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