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The candidates in Sunday’s Tokyo gubernatorial election seem at a loss for innovative ideas. The current governor has done a middling job on crime (Kabukicho, curfews for kids) and has banished diesel fumes, but he’s a xenophobic blowhard who, among his many irrational proclamations, has averred that bullying at school persists because victims “lack a fighting spirit.” The centerpiece of his strategy for a new term is his lunge for the Olympics. This is the starry-eyed vision of an aging man seeking to relive his youth as well as a costly initiative with little chance of success. After all, Nagano hosted the games just nine years ago, and Beijing will do so next year.

As for Shintaro Ishihara’s leading challenger, Shiro Asano may be a bit boring, but he’s a man with both feet on the ground. He would reconsider the Olympics bid, he says, and would prefer to concentrate on transparency, social reforms, disaster preparedness and education.

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