National / Politics

Lesser-known candidates in the Tokyo gubernatorial race make their case

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

After largely being overlooked and receiving scant media coverage, 15 lesser-known candidates in Sunday’s Tokyo gubernatorial election had a last chance on Friday to make their case on how they would shake-up the mega city.

The 15, who include a journalist, entrepreneur and dentist, spoke in a joint appearance at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. They are all polling well behind the three front-runners: Yuriko Koike, Hiroya Masuda and Shuntaro Torigoe.

One of the challengers, Hiroko Nanami, of the Happiness Realization Party, said she wanted to boost Tokyo’s disaster preparedness by taking advantage of the nation’s state-of-the-art technology to make buildings more resistant to quakes and fires.

“At the age of 31, I’m the youngest candidate,” she said. “But I don’t think I’m inferior to any of my rivals.”

Dentist Masayoshi Kishimoto, said he wanted to prioritize the health and well-being of Tokyoites. Specifically, he said he will push for a health care system that is less burdensome on caregivers and seek to subsidize fertility treatment.

“Health is not your entire life, but without health, both the government and economy will grind to a halt,” Kishimoto said.

Freelance journalist Takashi Uesugi sounded an alarm about an impending financial crisis in Tokyo that he said will haunt the capital long after the 2020 Olympics.

Meanwhile, some candidates appeared to border on the outlandish, raising questions over the seriousness of their bids.

Takashi Tachibana, a former NHK employee, said he was a whistleblower who was fired after he allegedly reported irregular accounting at the public broadcaster. He said his sole goal was to “destroy NHK,” which he labeled the bane of Japan’s corrupt journalistic system.

Teruki Goto, a self-described Japanese “patriot,” caused quite a stir by repeatedly uttering a Japanese slang word for the male appendage during his televised campaign. He vowed at the FCCJ appearance to “cancel” the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, citing spiraling costs. “All you have to do is say no,” Goto said. “I’m the Japanese who can say no.”

An impeccable English speaker, Yujiro Taniyama, president of Japan Broadcasting.net Corp., spent all of his five-minute speech denouncing the FCCJ for denying his earlier request to speak at the club, calling its leadership committee “unfair” and “rigged.”

Also present were former temporary worker Shogo Takahashi, entrepreneur Mac Akasaka, former Lower House lawmaker Toshio Yamaguchi, former Kasai Mayor Chozo Nakagawa, anti-suicide advocate Yasuhiro Sekiguchi, Nihon University art professor Masahiro Miyazaki, urologist Sadao Imao, software firm president Yoshihiko Mochizuki and former Self-Defense Forces serviceman Hisao Naito.

Makoto Sakurai, a former head of the ultraconservative civic group Zaitokukai, along with Masaaki Yamanaka and Naoko Takei, was absent.