Former health and welfare minister Yoichi Masuzoe, backed by the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the Tokyo chapter of the Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), Japan’s largest labor organization, which counts the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s labor union among its members, won the Tokyo gubernatorial election on Sunday. Masuzoe focused on issues near and dear to the capitol’s residents, such as improving day-care and medical services, and preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games. While Masuzoe’s strategy of focusing on these meat and potato issues helped propel him to victory, the central government should not forget that nuclear power was also a big issue for voters.
Tokyo is the biggest user of electricity among Japan’s 47 prefectures, consuming about 10 percent of the nation’s electricity, and the two anti-nuclear power candidates — former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa and Kenji Utsunomiya, a former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations — together won about 40 percent of the total vote. Hosokawa and Utsunomiya opposed the Abe administration’s attempt to restart idled nuclear power plants and called for an immediate halt to nuclear power generation. Utsunomiya was backed by the Japan Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party. Hosokawa had the support of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who became an anti-nuclear advocate after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.