4 candidates run for Osaka gubernatorial election

4 candidates run for Osaka gubernatorial election

OSAKA, Jan. 20 Kyodo

The Osaka gubernatorial election campaign got underway Thursday, with four candidates competing for the office.

The election, to be held Feb. 6, is to fill the post vacated by Knock Yokoyama, who resigned as governor in December before being indicted for allegedly molesting a female campaign worker in April last year.

The candidates are Fusae Ota, a former senior official at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Makoto Ajisaka, a professor emeritus at Kansai University, Tatsuto Hiraoka, managing director of local private school group Seifu Gakuen, and Seizo-Hideyoshi Hashiba, a businessman.

Applications for candidatures closed at 5 p.m. and there were only the four received, the Osaka prefectural election management committee said.

Ota, 48, is supported not only by all three ruling coalition parties — the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Liberal Party and New Komeito party — but also the Reformers Network Party, the New Komeito’s parliamentary ally, and the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

Ajisaka, 66, is backed by the Japanese Communist Party and Hiraoka, 59, is supported by the LDP’s Osaka prefectural chapter. Hashiba, 50, has no official political backing.

Political analysts said the major campaign issues will be reconstructing the prefectural government’s finances, which are among the most deficit-ridden of Japan’s 47 prefectures, and boosting the sluggish economy of the Kansai region, whose center is Osaka.

The key to victory will be capturing a large floating vote, the analysts said.

The LDP and its Osaka chapter fielded separate candidates after the latter rejected pressure from party headquarters to support Ota as the LDP favorite.

If elected, front-runner Ota would become Japan’s first female governor.

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