Tokyo, June 22 (Jiji Press)–Japanese National Public Safety Commission Chairman Hachiro Okonogi announced Tuesday his intention to run in the Yokohama mayoral election set for Aug. 22.
“I’ve made up my mind to run” for the mayor’s office, Okonogi, a 56-year-old member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told a press conference.
Okonogi is a lawmaker of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, who represents a constituency in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.
To run in the election, which will be held as incumbent Mayor Fumiko Hayashi’s third term in office is set to expire in late August, Okonogi has to leave the cabinet and the Lower House.
A focal issue in the mayoral election is expected to be whether to support a proposal for Yokohama to host an integrated resort featuring a casino.
According to informed sources, Okonogi plans to oppose the envisaged IR project.
At the press conference, Okonogi refrained from making clear comments on the matter, while noting that media reports on his stance are on the right track.
Okonogi said he plans to hold an official press conference at a later date to talk about his thoughts after coordinating with the LDP group of his constituency and others.
Elected eight times to the Lower House, Okonogi has served in important LDP posts, including acting chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee.
In 2017, he was appointed chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and disaster management minister by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, becoming a cabinet member of the first time.
Okonogi came back as a cabinet member in September last year, when Suga succeeded Abe as prime minister.
So far, Masataka Ota, a 75-year-old Yokohama city assembly member, Akiko Fujimura, 48, representative director of an animal protection group, and Mineyuki Fukuda, a 57-year-old former Lower House member and a former state minister of the Cabinet Office, have expressed their intention to run in the Yokohama mayoral election.
Hayashi, the 75-year-old incumbent mayor, has not clarified whether she will run for another term. She supports the idea of attracting an IR to the city.