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2012年12月20日 (木)

猪瀬都政始動 東京の難題をどう解決する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 20, 2012)
Is Inose up to the task of resolving Tokyo's problems?
猪瀬都政始動 東京の難題をどう解決する(12月19日付・読売社説)

Naoki Inose has assumed the post of Tokyo governor after a landslide victory in Sunday's election. We hope he will steadily and successfully tackle the host of issues confronting him.

Tokyo residents threw their support behind Inose, who as vice governor supported former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and pledged he would pursue policies set by his predecessor.

Inose garnered a remarkable 4.34 million votes, the biggest number ever recorded by an individual in Japan's election history. Two factors were probably behind this--a higher voter turnout because the election was held simultaneously with the House of Representatives election and the lack of a competitive rival.

The new governor should perform his tasks persistently and without complacency over the huge number of votes he won.

First of all, Inose must review the policies pursued by his predecessor and eliminate those that have had a negative impact.


Banking business a headache

One negative legacy is ShinGinko Tokyo, a bank launched in 2005 with the aim of supporting small and medium-size companies. At the behest of Ishihara, the metropolitan government initially invested 100 billion yen in taxpayers' money, but the bank faced a management crisis. The investment has been criticized constantly as a misjudgment.

If the Law concerning Temporary Measures to Facilitate Financing for Small and Medium Enterprises, which allows a grace period for repayment, expires next March, it could adversely affect the cash flows of companies receiving loans from ShinGinko. This could lead to a bigger predicament for the bank's management.

Inose said the bank had "moved into the black on a single fiscal year basis." But is he certain the bank can be reconstructed? He needs to explain clearly to Tokyo residents about the significance of having the struggling bank continue its operations.

During the Tokyo election campaign, Inose said he planned to proceed with electric power energy reform and called for obsolete thermal power plants to be replaced.

However, relying on thermal power generation will increase fuel costs and worsen Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s financial distress. Restarting nuclear reactors is indispensable to secure a stable power supply.


Clarify N-power stance

It is questionable that Inose has not presented a clear stance on restarting nuclear power plants as governor of Tokyo, a major power consumption area. He must work on the Niigata prefectural government and others concerned to restart the reactors at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

Formulation of antidisaster measures is also an important task. A near-field earthquake--one with a narrow and shallow focus--has been forecast to occur in Tokyo with a 70 percent probability within 30 years. Urgent measures must be taken to strengthen the fireproofing and earthquake resistance of wooden houses. It also will be essential to modify the townscape of areas congested with houses.

The host city for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be decided next September. As the campaign to make Tokyo's bid for the Olympics successful is entering a crucial stage, public support must be enhanced.

In regard to the 23 ward assemblies, which have a combined total of 900 assembly members, reform has yet to start. This bloated number has been pointed out as problematic, but remains uncorrected.

On Tuesday, Inose told metropolitan government officials: "Tokyo has a role to reform Japan. We'll do what we can do." His ability to get things done will be put to the test.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 19, 2012)
(2012年12月19日01時12分  読売新聞)


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