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Campaigning starts for Lower House by-election in Hokkaido

Sapporo, April 13 (Jiji Press)–The official campaign period for the April 25 House of Representatives by-election in a constituency of Hokkaido, northernmost Japan, kicked off on Tuesday, with opposition candidates vying for a seat vacated by a scandal-tainted former agriculture minister.


Along with two elections to fill seats in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of parliament, one each in the prefectural constituencies of Nagano, central Japan, and Hiroshima, western Japan, the Lower House by-election in Hokkaido will be the first parliamentary poll since the administration of Yoshihide Suga was inaugurated in September last year.


The by-election in Hokkaido’s No. 2 electoral district follows the resignation of former agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa, who has left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Yoshikawa has been indicted without arrest on suspicion of accepting bribes from an egg production company when he was farm minister.


The LDP has decided not to field a candidate for the election, judging that the party will inevitably face an uphill battle due to growing criticism over the money scandal.


Six contenders filed their candidacies for the election, including Satoru Kobayashi, a 56-year-old doctor and independent newcomer, and Kenko Matsuki, a 62-year-old former lawmaker from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, who is backed by the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party.


The other four are all first-time candidates–Yoshiko Tsuruha, 53, a former commercial television announcer; Takanori Nagatomo, a 52-year-old lawyer; Izumi Yamazaki, 48, of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), a former Hokkaido prefectural assembly member; and Tadayuki Saito, 29, a former company employee and a member of a single-issue political party critical of public broadcaster NHK, or Japan Broadcasting Corp.


The Japanese Communist Party has withdrawn its candidate, and the party’s Hokkaido committee supported Matsuki.


Delivering a speech in the prefectural capital of Sapporo, Yukio Edano, leader of the CDP, said: “Money politics was going on in the current era of Reiwa. This is an election to turn the tide against the trend.”


Muneo Suzuki, an Upper House lawmaker from Nippon Ishin no Kai, said in his speech that some opposition parties “are just unifying their candidates without agreement in policies.”

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