When I was dripping with sweat traveling around the electoral district in Fukuoka Prefecture with my staff in my political campaign car this afternoon, suddenly my mobile phone rang and it was my secretary. He explained to me that he was taking lunch in Yokosuka City in Kanagawa Prefecture and Mr. Koizumi (Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, Former Prime Minister) happened to be sitting nearby, and he passed the phone to Mr. Koizumi who started talking to me fast as he always does. “I haven’t seen you for a while. You look fine. I’m glad to know you are doing well. The world is getting more and more confused, but I’m counting on you, Harada-san.” I replied, “Hello Mr. Koizumi. It’s been a long time since I last met you. I am relieved to know you are fine. I’m still struggling with elections as always. Our office is having a hard time coping with coronavirus infections. How about your office? I am grateful to your son (Shinjiro Koizumi) for his kindness and cooperation. Please convey my best regards to him.” Our simple conversation lasted only seven or eight minutes, but we made ourselves fully understood with each other.
I have had a close relationship with Mr. Koizumi for a long time. I ran for the general election of the House of Representatives in my electoral district in Kanagawa Prefecture three times during the period from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Since the electoral district was a medium electoral district system at that time, several members were elected to the Diet from one constituency, and my strongest rival in my district was Mr. Koizumi. Both of us were in our early 40s, and the competition between the two was quite intense. While he won the three consecutive elections, I won only once. When the electoral system comprising of the combination of single-seat constituencies and proportional representation was passed at the Diet in January 1994, I decided to move to Fukuoka Prefecture to run for the forthcoming general election of the House of Representatives. I won the general election which was held in Fukuoka in October 1996 under the new electoral system. After a while, we got personally acquainted with each other through the good offices of Mr. Taku Yamasaki, Former Vice President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and I have been close with Mr. Koizumi ever since then. When Mr. Koizumi was appointed as Minister of Health and Welfare in 1997, I was requested by him to serve as the Parliamentary Secretary of Health and Welfare, and worked for the Minister for a year and a half. When Mr. Koizumi ran for the election of President of the Liberal Democratic Party in April 2001, I assisted him in promoting his election campaigns mainly for the LDP’s party members all over Japan.
When Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi succeeded his father as a politician, he visited my office first and foremost to greet me, and strangely enough, he became my successor as Minister of the Environment in September 2019. And now, since my upcoming election is getting exceptionally tough, I have asked him to give me his special support in promoting my political campaigns.
It was indeed a long time since I last met with Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, and it was a great pleasure to receive a telephone call from my old rival. I feel that I made an auspicious start of the upcoming election.