Matsuzawa quits, backs Ishihara

by Takahiro Fukada

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa said Monday he will not run in the April 10 Tokyo gubernatorial election and will instead support incumbent Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

In light of the earthquake and tsunami damage in the Tohoku and Kanto regions and the governors alliance covering Tokyo, Kanagawa, and surrounding prefectures, Matsuzawa said he decided to pull out.

“I will not run for the Tokyo governor election. And I have made my decision to step back and cooperate entirely (with Ishihara) so that the metropolitan area alliance will develop,” he said at a news conference with Ishihara at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building.

Matsuzawa had said he would carry out policies in cooperation with these local governments to improve the environment, emergency medical services and the operations at Haneda and Narita airports. Any conflicts with Ishihara would harm the alliance, he said.

Matsuzawa also said now is not the time for the Kanagawa governor to desert the thousands of people victimized by the earthquake and tsunami.

“The entire nation is at a loss amid the state crisis,” he said. “Will it be tolerated for the top of the government to campaign for the Tokyo governor’s election and desert his (Kanagawa) prefectural office?,” he asked.

Matsuzawa said Ishihara will succeed with his policies if he gets elected for a fourth term. These are to promote the alliance of local governments in the metropolitan area, encourage the use of electric cars and establish measures to prevent secondhand smoking in public places.

For the upcoming race, the 78-year-old Ishihara, businessman Miki Watanabe, founder of pub chain Watami Co., and former Upper House lawmaker Akira Koike of the Japanese Communist Party have announced their candidacies.