Activists fear gubernatorial-race standoff could split anti-nuclear vote

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

A group of activists said Thursday that neither of the two major anti-nuclear candidates running for Tokyo governor plans to drop out of the race because both feel it’s too late and because they differ too much on policy.

The 19-member group, led by journalist Satoshi Kamata, on Monday asked former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa and Kenji Utsunomiya, former chairman of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, to make sure they don’t throw the election away by splitting the anti-nuclear vote.

“I’d like to express my disappointment to both camps,” lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, who belongs to the activist group, said at a Tokyo news conference. “It’s going to be very sad if (an anti-nuclear candidate) loses due to disunity in the campaign.”

The group said it is acting out of concern that the combined vote tally of the two anti-nuclear candidates will surpass that of any other single candidate. Recent media surveys show former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, is leading the race, followed by Hosokawa and Utsunomiya.

While Masuzoe just recently said he will phase out atomic power in the long run if elected, his resolve is considered weaker than that of Hosokawa and Utsunomiya.

Kibo no Machi Tokyo wo Tsukuru Kai (Group to Create Tokyo With Hope), Utsunomiya’s campaign group, said it decided not to cooperate with the activists for several reasons.

“It would betray those who already cast their ballots for Utsunomiya in advance voting as well as his supporters and volunteers if he accepted the offer,” the group said in a statement.

Hosokawa likewise told the group that, although his policies on nuclear energy and the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics are similar to Utsunomiya’s, their priorities differ on other issues.

The group’s name is Datsu Genpatsu Tochijisenkouho ni Touitsu wo Yobikakeru Kai, which roughly means “group calling for unification of anti-nuclear candidates running for Tokyo governor.”