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Tokyo gubernatorial candidates speak on Olympics, nuclear power, disasters

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Candidates running in the Feb. 9 Tokyo gubernatorial election have been making the rounds of the capital since the campaign started Jan. 23, trying to reach out to as many voters as possible.

Media reports show that former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe is in the lead, followed by former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa and Kenji Utsunomiya, an ex-president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, although a Kyodo News poll on Jan. 24 said 43 percent of the voters were undecided.

On Friday evening, Masuzoe appeared near JR Ueno Station in Taito Ward and pledged to voters that he will ensure the capital holds a successful 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

“We have to definitely make the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics a success,” the 65-year-old former Upper House member said. “I’d like to hear athletes and guests from overseas say ‘The Olympics and Paralympics are the best ever.’ ”

Masuzoe, who is effectively backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, New Komeito, also vowed to budget more funds for the arts and culture, as he spoke near an area with many museums.

Masuzoe also said he would put all his efforts into disaster prevention in light of possible inland earthquakes.

Hosokawa spoke Friday evening in front of JR Shinbashi Station in Minato Ward, stressing that Tokyo’s goal should be to end dependence on nuclear energy. Hosokawa was joined by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a fellow anti-nuclear advocate.

“The principal task of the Tokyo governor is to protect the lives of its citizens,” Hosokawa, 76, told a crowd of hundreds, many of whom apparently gathered after work. “If serious accidents occur at nuclear plants . . . it would be fatal.”

Hosokawa said he wants the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics to be held without relying on nuclear power.

“I’d like to hold a successful Olympics with the power of renewable energy. The athlete village and facilities would be powered by (the natural energy),” he said, arguing the nation’s technology could make this possible.

Hosokawa also vowed to work hard dealing with pressing matters facing the capital, including disaster prevention, elderly care, welfare and child care.

Koizumi, who became an anti-nuclear convert due to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, said he supports Hosokawa as he believes the main issue in the election should be to make a stand against atomic energy.

“There are many issues the metropolitan government faces, such as measures against earthquakes, medical care and welfare,” Koizumi said. “I think it won’t make much difference . . . who becomes governor. But what differentiates Hosokawa from the other candidates is (his opposition to nuclear power).”

Utsunomiya, who is supported by the Japan Communist Party and Social Democratic Party, appeared in front of anti-nuclear protestors who continue to hold rallies in front of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.

Toshio Tamogami, a former Air Self-Defense Force officer who is also running for governor, visited Izu-Oshima Island on Friday and met with victims of Typhoon Wipha, which killed or left missing nearly 40 islanders.

Information from Kyoto added