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Japan’s Parliament Has First Caucasian Candidate With PM-Japan-Politics

July 20, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ Claude Ciari, a French native, is campaigning hard for this weekend’s balloting, seeking to become the first Caucasian elected to Japan’s Parliament.

″I’m a proud Japanese, and I will do my best to help the Japanese people uplift their image,″ said Ciari, who came to Japan in 1967 and married a Japanese woman in 1975.

Ciari, a candidate in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, became a Japanese citizen a decade later so his two children would be Japanese nationals.

″I’ll try hard to defend social justice and protect those who are less privileged and not part of the Japanese success story,″ Ciari said.

Koreans naturalized Japanese have been elected to parliament or state legislatures in past elections but that is a rare occurrence in this traditionally closed society.

″It will be a good chance for the people to show to the world that they are making themselves international by electing a French-Japanese,″ said Ciari, a native of Nice.

Ciari, 45, a successful guitarist, composer, animator and actor, is running for the 252-seat House of Councillors under the banner of the New Liberal Club, a small party that broke away from the governing Liberal Democratic Party.

Of the 126 seats at stake Sunday, 76 will be decided in electoral districts and the other 50 according to percentage of the nationwide vote received by the 40-odd parties entered.

Ciari is second on the list of 10 New Liberal Club candidates seeking election under the proportional representation system.

″The top candidate, Mr. (Kazuhiko) Takeoka, will be elected if the party musters about 1 million votes. The borderline for my own chance will be around 2 million votes. I’m campaigning hard so the party can win many million (votes),″ Ciari said.

He has made speeches in fluent Japanese at street corners in major western Japan cities. He has visited small towns, shaking hands, smiling and bowing as other candidates do.

Ciari, who lives in Nishinomiya, a town between Kobe and Osaka, campaigned in Tokyo on Wednesday.

He said he chose the New Liberal Club because he foresees the party taking a key position ″coordinating between the two major political camps - the ruling party and the opposition led by the Socialists.″

In Sunday’s election he expects a considerable gain by the opposition and a major setback for the Liberal Democrats, who are on the defensive over an unpopular new sales tax and a widespread influence-peddling scandal.

The governing party has 142 seats in the upper house, and 73 members who will remain in office for three more years.

It needs to win 54 seats on Sunday just for a simple majority of 127 - a feat many pollsters and analysts say it cannot perform.

Ciari, a young, penniless musician when he first came to Japan, became a citizen at a time when children obtained Japanese nationality only if their fathers were Japanese. A few years ago, the law was revised to confer citizenship on children with Japanese mothers.

The Japanese government asks foreigners applying for citizenship to submit a new name ″appropriate for a Japanese.″ Ciari registered his Japanese name in Chinese characters pronounced: ″Kuroudo Chiari.″

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