The Democratic Party’s (DP) former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, 54, decided on Aug. 24 to run in the party’s presidential election. He has informed his aides of this intention and will announce his candidacy at a news conference on Aug. 26. In contrast to “Acting President” Renho, 48, who has already announced her candidacy as the successor to President Katsuya Okada, Maehara is supported by Diet members who are not members of the DP leadership and neutral groups. An all-out campaign is expected between these two well-known candidates.
With Renho viewed as the favorite, Maehara had been weighing his chances, thinking “it is necessary to have enough support to win.” Although he had been counting on the cooperation of former Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, the latter has indicated his support for Renho. However, Maehara has now determined that he will be able to win considerable support from the group led by former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata, the group of former Japan Innovation Party members, and other neutral groups.
While Maehara is a conservative who attaches great importance to the Japan-U.S. alliance, he is showing consideration for the liberals in the presidential race. He has also indicated acceptance of election cooperation with the Japanese Communist Party in the next House of Representatives election, on condition that priority will be given to policy discussions.
Maehara was leader of the former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) from September 2005 to April 2006. He served as the minister of land, infrastructure, transport, and tourism, foreign minister, DPJ Policy Research Committee chief, and minister for national policy under the DPJ administration.