Obuchi’s daughter in Diet race


The second daughter of the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on Tuesday declared her intention to run for her father’s seat in the upcoming general election.

At a press conference in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, Yuko Obuchi, 26, officially announced her candidacy for the prefecture’s No. 5 constituency in the House of Representatives election slated to be held June 25.

“I will take up those tasks that my father did not have time to carry out,” Obuchi said. “I had never thought of being a politician before my father became ill. I made up my mind when I saw his face shortly after he died.”

Obuchi did not offer details of what issues she will address during her campaign.

Asked about the practice of handing down a Diet seat among family members, she said, “All I can do is to try my best not to lose the confidence (of supporters) just because I’m a third-generation lawmaker.”

Obuchi’s grandfather, Mitsuhei Obuchi, was also a Lower House member. When he died, his son Keizo took over his seat.

Obuchi would be one of the youngest candidates in the House of Representatives election. Candidates are required to be at least 25.

Obuchi is a graduate of Seijo University in Tokyo and served as a private secretary to her father since April 1999 after working for a private television station.

Top executives in the former Obuchi faction in the Liberal Democratic Party were searching for a candidate to succeed Obuchi in his seat after he fell into a coma following a stroke early in April.

Early in May, senior members of Obuchi’s regional support groups asked Yuko Obuchi, through her father’s secretary, to stand for the Lower House election, according to group sources.

Keizo Obuchi died May 14 at a Tokyo hospital.

Party switching

Kunio Hatoyama, former deputy leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, will return to the Liberal Democratic Party, LDP Secretary General Hiromu Nonaka said Tuesday.

Hatoyama, who gave up his Lower House seat and left the DPJ to run for the Tokyo gubernatorial election in April 1999, was unofficially accepted to the LDP by a meeting of executive party members Tuesday, Nonaka told a regular news conference.

The LDP is expected to formally approve Hatoyama’s return next week.

According to Nonaka, Hatoyama was asked twice, in December and March, by then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to rejoin the LDP.

Hatoyama’s brother, Yukio, heads the largest opposition party.

A former education minister, Kunio Hatoyama is expected to be registered near the top of the list as a proportional representation candidate from the Tokyo bloc in the next general election. , expected to be held June 25.

“I don’t want to create a nuisance by running for the single-seat constituency,” Nonaka quoted Hatoyama as saying. “I will entrust the registration order (to the LDP).”

Because Hatoyama has been in discord with his brother since he left the DPJ, Tuesday’s move is likely to stir up further ill feelings.

Kunio Hatoyama quit the LDP in 1993 and later joined the now-defunct Shinshinto.

He left Shinshinto in 1996 and launched the DPJ together with his elder brother.

In the 1996 Lower House election, Hatoyama was elected from the Tokyo No. 2 constituency as a DPJ candidate but resigned from his post to run for the Tokyo gubernatorial race in 1999 as an independent.