Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi has formally announced her intention to run as an independent in the city’s mayoral election on 22 August.
Her decision, announced at a press conference on Thursday, comes after the Yokohama Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which recommended Hayashi in previous mayoral elections, stated that it could not recommend her again due to her number of previous terms, age and health. Hayashi is 75.
However, the LDP did reveal this week that it will allow a free vote by its members, meaning the LDP vote will likely be divided between those who support Hachiro Okonogi – the former chairman of the National Public Safety Commission who opposes Yokohama’s IR project – and incumbent Hayashi who has promoted an IR bid.
On 14 July, the “Yokohama Citizens’ Association Aiming for Re-election of Mayor Fumiko Hayashi” was established and around 50 members of the association met with the mayor at city hall where they handed her their statements and requested she run again. It appears there are significant numbers in the community who are hoping for an IR facility.
In addition to Okonogi and Hayashi, former Yokohama City University professor Takeharu Yamanaka (48), incumbent Yokohama City Council member Masataka Ota (75), animal protection group representative director Akiko Fujimura (48), Deputy Minister of the Cabinet Office and former member of the House of Representatives Mineyuki Fukuda (57), fisheries wholesaler president Yoshikazu Tsubokura (70), former prosecutor and attorney Nobuo Gohara (66) and former Nagano governor Yasuo Tanaka (65) have all indicated their intention to run. There are rumors that even more candidates may step into the race.
This is one of the most tumultuous political battle of recent years, but with so much at stake for Japan’s IR dream the election will remain a compelling issue until its resolution next month.