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Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012

Abe officially declares in LDP race

Staff writer

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared his candidacy Wednesday for the Sept. 26 LDP presidential election.

"I'm very healthy now, so I decided to enter the fray again," Abe said.

Winning the presidential seat could lead to him becoming prime minister again if the LDP wins the next Lower House election, which could be held as early as autumn. However, he faces skepticism within the largest opposition party that he would be able to fulfill his duties. He abruptly resigned as prime minister in 2007, citing health reasons, a year after he took the office.

Abe, a grandchild of Nobusuke Kishi, who was also a prime minister, was hospitalized a day after the announcement and diagnosed with nonulcer dyspepsia, which causes pain in the upper abdomen. Doctors explained it was caused by too much stress and fatigue.

In 2008, he revealed in a magazine that he had been suffering from ulcerative colitis, an intractable disease, for a long while. He said Wednesday that he "recovered thanks to new medicine."

On Monday, Abe stressed that he would do his best to "protect land, sea and people's lives" if elected, referring to the recent territorial disputes with China and South Korea. He added that he favors amending the Constitution to reflect the present day.

The political blue blood is likely to seek the cooperation of Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) headed by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who is busy gearing up for the next Lower House election.

"There are many parts in their education policy that I can relate to," Abe said, adding that in a broad sense the LDP and Hashimoto's party can cooperate.

If elected, Abe said, he would appoint young members to the party's executive posts.

"I hope to create a condition in which the public can see that the power of the young is emerging in the LDP," he said

But his candidacy is likely to split the party's largest faction, headed by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, since both have decided to run.

Machimura asked Abe several times to stay out of the race.

Abe is the fourth LDP member so far to announce a run for the top post. Besides Machimura, the others are former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara.

Upper House member Yoshimasa Hayashi was expected to announce his candidacy on Thursday.

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The Japan Times

Article 13 of 18 in National news

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