Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s attempt to appoint his right-hand man vice governor was blocked Monday by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, casting a shadow over his relations with the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito-controlled body.
While the assembly approved the appointment of two metropolitan government bureaucrats to vice-governor posts, it effectively nixed Ishihara’s choice for a third vice governor — Takeo Hamauzu, 51, his former secretary — by voting overwhelmingly to postpone its decision.
It was the first time in 32 years that the assembly has failed to approve a newly elected governor’s nominee for vice governor.
The special one-day extraordinary session was Ishihara’s first official encounter with the assembly since he assumed office late last month.
For the time being, Ishihara will be aided by the two vice governors endorsed by the assembly: Masamichi Fukunaga, 57, chief of the metropolitan government’s Waste Management Bureau, and Yasushi Aoyama, 55, deputy director general of the Policy and Information Bureau.
Hamauzu served as Ishihara’s secretary when he was a Lower House member until 1995. Currently Hamauzu works as secretary to Upper House member Yoshitada Kounoike.
Following the assembly session, Ishihara told a news conference that Hamauzu will serve as the governor’s “special” secretary for the time being. “There is nobody who can replace him. … I’ll try to have him known by the assembly members,” said Ishihara.
However, assembly sources said that the chances that Hamauzu will be approved by the assembly at the regular assembly session slated for June are slim, since many assembly members doubt whether a man with no other professional experience than serving as a lawmaker’s secretary can fill the vice governor’s post.
Meanwhile, in his keynote address during the assembly session, Ishihara reiterated his hope to reform Japan through reforming Tokyo. “Now is the time to strongly send novel messages to the national government to change the present framework and establish true autonomy,” Ishihara said.
Ishihara was subjected to repeated jeering by assembly members, most of whom are members of the Liberal Democratic Party, to which Ishihara once belonged. One assembly member booed the governor for his reading off a manuscript. Ishihara responded, “These are notes made by what I dictated to officials.”