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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hatoyama could face tough re-election bid against Horii


Staff writer

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's political life could be at risk if a Lower House poll were to be called anytime soon, as the Democratic Party of Japan plans to suspend his party membership for six months after he voted against the administration's tax hike bill last week.

News photo
Yukio Hatoyama

The punishment means the ruling DPJ won't officially endorse the party cofounder as a candidate if the election is held within the next six months.

Hatoyama's hardship doesn't end there, however.

The Liberal Democratic Party's Hokkaido branch has decided to run Olympic speedskating medalist Manabu Horii in Hatoyama's home district in Hokkaido.

"The political situation is unstable now. The LDP must recapture the government in the next election," Horii's secretary, Joji Mouri, quoted him as saying after the branch's decision. Horii is now waiting for the official LDP endorsement, Mouri added.

Horii, who won a bronze medal in the 500 meters speedskating event at the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994, has been in the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly since 2007.

Although Hatoyama is from one of the most famous political families — his grandfather, Ichiro Hatoyama, was the first LDP prime minister — he hasn't always had an easy time in his home district.

In the 2005 Lower House race, he got 150,050 votes in the Hokkaido No. 9 district, only marginally better than the LDP candidate's 131,130 votes.

In the next election in 2009, with Hatoyama president of the DPJ as it swept to power, he received 201,461 votes to 79,116 for the LDP candidate.

Hatoyama was the DPJ's first prime minister, but he stepped down after serving less than a year amid a political money scandal.

Unlike Ichiro Ozawa and his followers, who left the DPJ after rejecting the bill, Hatoyama decided to remain in the party.

"I will accept the punishment," Hatoyama told reporters Tuesday. "But the real problem is (the party leadership) allowing the party to fracture."



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The Japan Times

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