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Wednesday, Sep. 12, 2012

Ishihara declares he will run for LDP president

Staff writer

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara on Tuesday officially declared his candidacy for the LDP's Sept. 26 presidential race, while former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to announce his candidacy Wednesday.

"I decided to run in the election thinking I should protect the country and hometowns," Ishihara told reporters without specifying his policies. He added, however, that he will provide details the next time he has the chance.

After current LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki decided Monday not to seek re-election, Ishihara, 55, whose father, Shintaro, is the outspoken governor of Tokyo, is now considered a strong candidate because he is likely to gain support from party heavyweights, including Makoto Koga, the head of a faction with some 30 members who refused to back Tanigaki in the election, and former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

Former construction minister and veteran lawmaker Taku Yamasaki also decided Tuesday that he and his 35 allies will support Ishihara in the election.

"I think (Tanigaki) wanted to pass the baton to a younger generation. I want to respond to his wish and take responsibility, and realize the policies the LDP has been pushing for the past three years under President Tanigaki," Ishihara said.

Ishihara said one of the key goals he would pursue if elected is social security and tax reforms that the LDP and New Komeito agreed to with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, including the bill they collectively passed to double the 5 percent consumption tax by 2015.

Ishihara also stressed the importance of giving prefectures more power, hinting at partial support of the decentralization drive championed by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, the head of Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka).

"Mr. Hashimoto is also arguing this issue," Ishihara said.

Hashimoto has launched Nippon Ishin no Kai, or the Japan Restoration Party, and seven Diet members from the DPJ, LDP and Your Party joined him Tuesday after leaving their parties.

Meanwhile, the candidacy of Abe, 57, who abruptly stepped down as prime minister in 2007 partly due to health, is likely to split the LDP faction headed by 67-year-old former Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, to which Abe belongs. Machimura announced his candidacy last week and repeatedly asked Abe to refrain from running so the faction could remain unified.

Another candidate in the LDP race is former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, 55, who, according to a poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun on Saturday and Sunday showed him to be the most popular with voters, backed by 23 percent of 1,006 respondents, compared with 19 percent who support Ishihara and 13 percent behind Abe.

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The Japan Times

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