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Obuchi’s Daughter To Run for Office

May 23, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ The daughter of a Japanese prime minister who fell into a fatal coma while in office announced Tuesday she will run for her father’s seat in the coming elections.

Yuko Obuchi _ the 26-year-old daughter of former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi _ said she was eager to imitate the late leader, who filled his own father’s seat in the powerful lower house of parliament also at 26.

``I feel I am standing at the same start line. To me, my father was an ideal politician, and I want to emulate him,″ she said.

Obuchi suffered a stroke in April and was replaced by Yoshiro Mori, who has said he will call an election on June 25. Obuchi died May 14.

Public sympathy for Obuchi is expected to give an electoral boost to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and is likely to help Yuko Obuchi carry on her family’s political dynasty.

Yuko Obuchi served as her father’s private secretary since April last year. If elected, she will be one of parliament’s youngest members; the minimum age for a representative in the legislature is 25.

Examples of widows, sons or daughters of politicians taking over seats left vacant by a death abound in Japanese politics, and the tradition has recently come under increasing scrutiny.

``We need to decide whom to vote for based on who the candidate is, not what family they are from,″ the mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun newspaper said in an editorial.

Some 140, or about one-third, of the lower house’s 500 seats are held by descendants of former parliamentarians. In the less powerful 252-member upper house, the number is 30.

The number of such seats in the lower house has risen steadily, more than tripling from just 38 in the early 1960s.

Many heirs to a legislative seat have become the most influential figures in politics. Four of Japan’s seven most recent prime ministers are second- or third-generation lawmakers.

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