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Ex-prime minister finally announces policy pledges

Hosokawa to play Tokyo nuke card

by Masaaki Kameda and Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writers

Morihiro Hosokawa pledged Wednesday he would try to end Tokyo’s dependence on nuclear power as he finally made his candidacy for governor official just a day before campaigning officially starts.

The 76-year-old former prime minister said he would set up a strategic panel of experts to explore basic energy policies to abolish nuclear power.

“In order to realize a Tokyo that is not dependent on nuclear energy, I would prompt the public and private sectors to generate renewable energy as well as to ask for cooperation from the residents of Tokyo to conserve energy,” Hosokawa told a news conference, finally revealing his election pledges after two delays.

He said he would like to set the year 2020, when Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics, as a target for creating a “new Tokyo and Japan.” He acknowledged that he did not initially welcome the successful bid to bring the Olympics to Tokyo because resolution of the Fukushima nuclear crisis is not yet in sight.

He said as governor he would also address the capital’s needs in disaster prevention, welfare and support for households raising children.

Other candidates also talked Wednesday about their election pledges.

Former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, another of the leading candidates, appeared to back off from his earlier anti-nuclear stance by saying it is up to the Nuclear Regulation Authority and the central government to decide whether to restart the nation’s idled reactors.

Earlier, Masuzoe said he advocated “datsu-genpatsu” (phasing out nuclear power), saying all nuclear plants should eventually be mothballed.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which urges reactor restarts once they clear the NRA’s new safety tests, is giving semi-official support to Masuzoe, an apparent reason for toning down his stance.

At another news conference at the Japan National Press Club, candidate Kenji Utsunomiya, a former chairman of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said he will not hold talks with Hosokawa to unify the anti-nuclear forces for the election.

Some anti-nuclear activists have urged Utsunomiya, an opponent of nuclear power, not to run and thus avoid a split in the no-nukes vote.

Utsunomiya pointed out that Hosokawa had not made public his campaign pledges yet, and he could not forgo his candidacy just because of his anti-nuclear policy.

“This is an abnormal gubernatorial election. Candidates have already decided to run, but we can’t have a policy debate yet,” Utsunomiya said.

Toshio Tamogami, a former chief of staff of the Air Self-Defense Force, said Wednesday he would use his crisis-management experience as a top military officer to improve Tokyo’s preparedness for a major disaster.