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Candidates make final pitches in Tokyo gubernatorial election

Kyodo

Candidates in the Tokyo gubernatorial election made their final push Saturday on the eve of voting, trying to reach out to voters on a day in which the capital experienced the heaviest snowfall in 20 years.

The main contenders in Sunday’s election include former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, 76, former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, 65, former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami, 65, and Kenji Utsunomiya, 67, the former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

The new governor will be tasked with preparing Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics as well as the possibility of a major earthquake, which some academics predict could occur within the next 30 years. He will also be facing challenges such as the aging of society and the low birthrate.

“Natural energy is the best answer to stimulate domestic demand,” Hosokawa said in the Ginza shopping district, with former premier Junichiro Koizumi standing by his side. “Let’s join forces to open a new era (without nuclear energy).”

Koizumi accompanied Hosokawa throughout the 17-day campaign period to stress that Japan can prosper without nuclear power.

“We will make Tokyo the world’s No. 1 city as we host the Olympics in six years,” Masuzoe said in front of Senso Temple in Asakusa. “I ask all of you to give me a chance to steer the city.”

Shigeru Ishiba, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, and transport minister Akihiro Ota of the New Komeito party, joined Masuzoe to voice the two-party ruling coalition’s continued support.

“I will try to make Japan’s Abenomics-driven economic recovery a sustainable one,” Tamogami said near Shibuya Station. He is a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the premier’s hard-line stance against China and South Korea on territorial disputes and other issues.

“This is an election to give Tokyo back into the hands of residents and stop the Abe administration that is going out of control,” said Utsunomiya.

Utsunomiya later spoke to voters live on the Internet as the snowfall grew heavier.