OSAKA--After being rejected by an actor, the Liberal Democratic Party turned to a former ally of Osaka Ishin no Kai, hoping his candidacy for governor will thwart the regional party’s plans to create a metropolitan government.

Tadakazu Konishi, 64, a former vice governor, informed members of the LDP’s Osaka prefectural chapter on March 11 that he has accepted the party’s request to run in the Osaka gubernatorial election scheduled for April 7.

He was expected to hold a news conference later on March 11 to formerly announce his candidacy.

The Osaka mayoral election will also be held on April 7.

Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, both members of Osaka Ishin no Kai, resigned on March 8, prompting the holding of the double election on April 7. Matsui and Yoshimura plan to run for each other’s position.

Under the party’s plan, a successful job switch by Matsui and Yoshimura will provide momentum and extra time for its often-stalled plan to merge the Osaka prefectural and city governments into a metropolitan government, like Tokyo’s.

Konishi joined the Osaka prefectural government in 1980. He played a central role in the financial reforms imposed under the administration of Toru Hashimoto, the former head of Osaka Ishin no Kai who was elected governor in 2008. He later became Osaka mayor.

In October 2012, after being promoted to chief of the general affairs department in the prefectural government, Konishi was appointed vice governor by Matsui, who took over the leadership of the party from Hashimoto.

While holding important positions in the prefectural government, Konishi sometimes butted heads with Matsui and other party members. For example, Konishi criticized an ordinance proposed by the governor’s party and argued for salary increases for prefectural employees who saw their pay slashed after the Hashimoto administration took power.

Konishi was also in charge of a bureau that was set up to create a metropolitan government, an idea long pushed by Hashimoto and Matsui.

Konishi resigned in November 2015, citing “personal reasons.”

The LDP hopes that Konishi’s considerable experience in the prefectural administration will help him effectively attack the way Osaka Ishin no Kai has run the government and garner widespread support from voters.

Konishi, however, was not the LDP’s first choice.

LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai on March 8 asked well-known actor Takuro Tatsumi, 60, to run in the gubernatorial election, according to party officials.

But on the night of March 10, the actor declined the offer.

“I spent a few days wondering about it, and made a final decision after consulting my friends and acquaintances and discussing it with my family,” Tatsumi wrote in a message posted on his Facebook page on March 11.

On the evening of March 10, Tatsumi told reporters in Tokyo, “My love for Osaka is bigger than anybody’s but running in an election is a whole different issue.”

Osaka Ishin no Kai’s election moves have stirred strong criticism from not only the LDP but also opposition parties in the prefectural and municipal governments, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party.

The LDP, which has openly stated that it would field a candidate to beat the “incumbent,” plans to ask opposition parties to support Konishi and mobilize “anti-Ishin” forces.

With Konishi’s candidacy set for the governor’s election, the LDP will move to field a candidate for the mayoral race. The names of bureaucrats, local government officials and academics have been floated as potential candidates.

(This article was compiled from reports by Satoshi Shinden and Takashi Yoshikawa.)