Higashikokubaru noncommittal on Tokyo run

by Takahiro Fukada

Hideo Higashikokubaru, the popular former Miyazaki governor, would not say Thursday if he will run in the Tokyo gubernatorial race in April.

“I’m not ruling out any possibility,” Higashikokubaru told reporters at a Tokyo hotel. “I haven’t decided anything for the time being.”

The 53-year-old comedian-turned-politician did not disclose when he might decide to throw his hat in the ring. Higashikokubaru reportedly said in November that running in a Diet or major gubernatorial election were among the options he was considering.

The Miyazaki native said he considers Tokyo “a second home” where he attended university, worked, started a family and met popular comedian Takeshi Kitano, his mentor. “(Tokyo) holds an extremely important place in my life,” he said.

While Higashikokubaru conceded he has not studied in detail the major issues the post entails, he touched on financially troubled Shinginko Tokyo, a bank founded by the metro government, and the controversial proposed relocation of the Tsukiji fish market.

On Shinginko, Higashikokubaru suggested establishing a third-party committee to weigh various measures concerning the bank.

On Tsukiji, he said the key factors are the cost of the relocation, the manner in which it would be carried out and the opinions of Tokyo residents and those working at the market.

Higashikokubaru also argued that prefectural governments in the Kanto region should form an administrative federation to jointly work on key infrastructure projects, including improving ports and Haneda and Narita airports. “Tokyo has to work with (other prefectures in the area) so Kanto will become a national and global leader,” he said.