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Ex-PM Hosokawa to run for Tokyo governor

Publication Date : 15-01-2014

 

Former premier Morihiro Hosokawa has decided to come out of political retirement and run for the post of Tokyo governor, following assurances of support from another former premier, Junichiro Koizumi.

"I asked Koizumi for his strong support, and he said he would give it. That is reassuring," Hosokawa said after a 50-minute meeting yesterday with Koizumi at a Tokyo hotel.

Asked why he decided to stand in the Feburary 9 election, he replied: "I feel a sense of crisis over the many problems faced by Japan which affect the country's existence, especially nuclear energy."

Hosokawa, who turned 76 on Tuesday, has been calling for the abandonment of nuclear power following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Koizumi, 72, who has been advocating a zero nuclear energy policy since last year, said: "I believe Japan can develop even without nuclear energy, and so does Hosokawa. That is the biggest reason why I am supporting him.

"If we can show that Tokyo can survive without nuclear energy, we can change all of Japan."

Hosokawa is expected to be the front runner in the race, given the widespread aversion to nuclear energy among voters.

More than 60 per cent of Tokyo voters said they want either an immediate end to nuclear power or to phase it out over a period of time, according to a recent survey by the Tokyo Shimbun daily.

The two men's anti-nuclear stance pits them directly against pro-nuclear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose party is backing former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe for governor.

Speaking in the Mozambique capital of Maputo, where he was visiting, Abe said: "Energy issues are of course likely to be discussed, but balanced debate is also necessary for other issues that must be dealt with by a Tokyo governor."

As Hosokawa, who was prime minister from 1993 to 1994, has been out of the public eye since 1998, the support of Koizumi, who is still very popular with voters, is believed to be crucial.

Political commentator Atsuo Ito said: "The fact that the two men appeared together before reporters suggests that Koizumi is 100 per cent behind Hosokawa."

Voters, said Ito, are looking for a governor who can last long enough to oversee the 2020 Olympics which Tokyo is due to host. Although the governor's term is only four years, he stands to win a second term if he performs well.

The post fell vacant last month when the previous governor, Naoki Inose, quit after receiving 50 million yen (US$479,000) from a scandal-tainted hospital operator.

 

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