National / Politics

Veteran journalist Shuntaro Torigoe to run for Tokyo governor as opposition camp's unified candidate

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Veteran journalist Shuntaro Torigoe announced Tuesday he intends to run for governor of Tokyo, saying the sweeping victory for the ruling camp in Sunday’s Upper House election forced him to step forward to protect the pacifist Constitution.

Torigoe, 76, a former reporter for the Mainichi Shimbun and news anchor for TV Asahi, has received endorsements from the Democratic Party and three other opposition parties — the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends) — as their unified candidate.

During a hastily arranged news conference in Tokyo, Torigoe said he made up his mind to run in the July 31 election after seeing pro-revision forces grab two-thirds of the seats in the Upper House, the threshold needed to initiate a constitutional referendum.

“Looking at the results of the Upper House election, I realized that revision of the Constitution has become a real possibility,” Torigoe said. “I felt the peaceful era has started to change, and it is an issue that impacts Tokyo … I want to help avert this shift and to do so from Tokyo.”

Torigoe, however, said that given his more than 40 years as a journalist, it wasn’t an easy decision to change sides and run for public office. He said he firmly believed his role was to keep watch on the powerful as “an outsider.”

“To tell you the truth, I wondered if I should run,” he said. “But in the end, my inner voice led me to raise my hand.

“I’m 76 years old. I don’t have that much time left in my life,” he continued. “If I am given the chance, I will wholeheartedly devote myself to making the capital a good place to live and work in, and also to improving the environment.”

A vocal critic of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, Torigoe has joined rallies and gatherings to oppose the government’s policies, such as the state secrets law and last year’s passage of the security legislation to expand the overseas role of the Self-Defense Forces.

The Tokyo chapter of the DP earlier asked Shigeaki Koga, 60, a former bureaucrat in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, to run. But after learning of the popular journalist’s decision, the party changed its mind and decided to back Torigoe.

Koga accepted the DP’s last-minute switch, saying he fully supports Torigoe, a longtime friend.

Other people who will be seeking Tokyo’s top post include former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Hiroya Masuda, 64, who on Monday received the endorsement of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Tokyo chapter.

Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister, has declared her intention to run as an independent after failing to gain the backing of the LDP’s Tokyo branch.

Kenji Utsunomiya, a veteran human rights lawyer, has also declared his candidacy.

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