Morihiro Hosokawa and fellow former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi plan to keep calling for a permanent end to the use of nuclear energy in Japan after Hosokawa's failed attempt to become Tokyo governor Sunday.

"I will continue my anti-nuclear activities with those who gave me warm support in this election," Hosokawa said after media projections showed former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe heading for a landslide victory.

"I would like to express my deep gratitude to former leader Koizumi, who took to the streets throughout my campaign," Hosokawa said.

Given continuing opposition to the Liberal Democratic Party-led government's move to allow nuclear reactors to resume operations if they clear new safety standards introduced last summer, the gubernatorial election in part took on the appearance of a referendum on the future of Japan's energy policy when Hosokawa entered the race with the help of the hugely popular Koizumi.

"I will continue to make efforts to create a nuclear-free Japan," Koizumi said in a statement released Sunday.

During the 17-day campaign period, Koizumi even criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who held an important post in the Koizumi administration in the early 2000s, saying he is angry about the government's plan to use nuclear reactors "as if nothing has happened (in Fukushima)."

Senior ruling party officials claim Koizumi will lose his influence for supporting Hosokawa against the current government.

"Mr. Koizumi would have remained a big gun if he hadn't supported Mr. Hosokawa. What a pity," said one Cabinet minister close to Abe.

Another senior LDP official said of the two ex-prime ministers, "Both of them tarnished themselves in the final stages of their careers. They are men of the past."