Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa said Tuesday as he turned 76 that he has secured the backing of fellow former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and will run for Tokyo governor next month.
Hosokawa’s camp considered it critical for him to get the full support of Koizumi, a popular leader who has been in the news lately for renouncing his stance in favor of nuclear power.
“The nuclear issue is something that is worth working on as a governor,” Hosokawa said after meeting with Koizumi at a Tokyo hotel. “I will give my all.”
Hosokawa and Koizumi met for about an hour before facing a throng of journalists waiting for them to appear.
“I have made a decision to run in the race,” Hosokawa said. “Mr. Koizumi said he would support me. I feel very encouraged.”
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is a major shareholder in Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima No. 1 plant as well as several other nuclear power stations.
An anti-nuclear governor could use this position to curb the utility’s drive to restart its shuttered reactors.
Koizumi, whose flamboyant style and luxurious mane made him a popular prime minister from 2001 to 2006, has become an anti-nuclear convert since the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, putting him at odds with his status as an LDP grandee.
“I will work hard and actively for Mr. Hosokawa’s election,” Koizumi said. “The election will be a battle between a group of people who say Japan cannot advance without nuclear power and another group of people who say Japan can.”
Koizumi said the biggest reason he is supporting Hosokawa is their common views on nuclear policy.
“We can change the country for sure if we show that Tokyo can live without nuclear power,” he said.
Koizumi said he will actively stump for Hosokawa during the campaign ahead of the Feb. 9 election.
Hosokawa’s camp is already working on his campaign pledges, including breaking with nuclear power, enhancing social security and promoting exchanges with overseas cities.
It is also considering a plan to hold some of the 2020 Olympic Games in the Tohoku region, which was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Hosokawa, who marked his 76th birthday Tuesday, was prime minister between August 1993 and April 1994. He has been away from politics for along time, working as a potter after resigning from the Lower House in May 1998.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is prepared to recommend former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, 65.