Gov.-elect Yasuo Tanaka

NAGANO (Kyodo) Nagano Gov.-elect Yasuo Tanaka said Monday he will question officials responsible for destroying account books for this city’s successful bid to host the 1998 Winter Olympics.

“I would like to immediately question those who have information” on what happened to the books, Tanaka told reporters one day after winning the gubernatorial election.

The books detailed the 1.9 billion yen, including taxpayers’ money, the city spent in its bid to host the games.

The books, which would have shed light on Nagano’s campaign for getting the Games, became the focus of public scrutiny after allegations of bribery surfaced over Salt Lake City’s successful bid to host the 2002 Winter Games.

When a citizens’ group demanded that the documents be disclosed, however, it was revealed that the books were destroyed sometime before October 1991, when the official committee for bringing the Games to Nagano was disbanded.

Tanaka, an award-winning novelist, also said that as Nagano governor he will stop controversial public works projects and disclose more information on them.

“It is common sense to suspend public works projects that are not profitable,” he said. “We need to change the practice by which common sense in the public sector is nonsense to the private sector.”

He also said he would like to collect opinions from the public via a Web site, and draw up a list of controversial public works projects in the prefecture.

Tanaka, who ran as an independent, beat former Vice Gov. Fumitaka Ikeda, 58, and two other contenders in the race to succeed 74-year-old Gov. Goro Yoshimura, who has held office for 20 years after serving as vice governor.

Tanaka, author of the best-selling novel “Nantonaku Kurisutaru” (“Somehow Crystal”), garnered 589,324 votes, vs. Ikeda’s 473,717.

Tanaka’s victory was a landmark break from the conservative prefecture’s custom of electing vice governors or outgoing governors handpicking prefectural officials. “I hope to lead a Nagano Prefectural Government that is crystal-clear and without secrets,” Tanaka, at 44 the nation’s youngest governor, said Monday. “Let us take Nagano into a new era.”

Tanaka was backed by civic groups and the Nagano chapter of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo).

Government leaders in Tokyo were meanwhile busy trying to play down the impact of the Nagano result on national politics.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hideo Nakagawa said Monday the central government does not believe Tanaka’s victory will have a major impact on national politics.

The result is “the will of the people of Nagano . . . and the government and the ruling parties must accept it with modesty,” the top government spokesman told reporters. “But this was an election to choose the governor and will not have a direct impact on national politics.” Analysts said Tanaka’s victory shows the widespread dissatisfaction with major political parties among local voters, a phenomenon seen in such major urban areas as Tokyo and Osaka.

Gov. Ishihara pleased

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Monday expressed his pleasure in the result of Sunday’s gubernatorial election in Nagano Prefecture, saying the victory of independent Yasuo Tanaka was what he had predicted.

“I said Mr. Tanaka would win if the election became a battle between a bureaucrat and a private citizen,” Ishihara told reporters.

Ishihara, also a writer, said he hopes Tanaka will come up with some original ideas to reform the prefecture’s administration.

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