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2014年1月14日 (火)

東京都知事選 「脱原発」訴える場に適するか

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 13, 2014
Tokyo gubernatorial race incongruous for blowing 'denuclearization' trumpet
東京都知事選 「脱原発」訴える場に適するか(1月13日付・読売社説)

There are indications the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election may adversely affect the conduct of state affairs.

This is because former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa has made clear his intention to run in the election, upsetting the widely expected scenario that former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe would be the key figure in the Tokyo poll, as his bid is likely to be supported by the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito.

Hosokawa apparently is poised to run on a campaign pledge to eliminate nuclear power plants and plans to seek the backing of another former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, who has called for “reducing the nation’s nuclear plants to zero.”

Kenji Utsunomiya, former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, who has already declared his intention to run in the Tokyo race with the support of the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, also argues that the nation should “break away from nuclear power generation.”

What should be taken into consideration in this connection is that nuclear power generation is crucial to the central government’s overall energy policy. Any attempt to make the elimination of nuclear plants a major campaign issue in the Tokyo gubernatorial race is highly questionable.

Apparently in a move to prevent nuclear power from becoming a major issue in the Tokyo contest, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is set to put off a decision, which was scheduled by the end of the month, on the government’s basic energy plan, a set of guidelines charting midterm and long-range energy policies. This means the Tokyo election has already begun to affect state affairs.

Should candidates spouting slogans to eliminate nuclear power generation garner large numbers of votes in the Tokyo poll, a mammoth power-consumption area, the prospects for reactivating some of the idled reactors would be adversely affected. The prime minister’s Abenomics business growth policy package, and the effort to rebuild the national economy, could be hampered.

Both LDP, DPJ disappointing

Developments over possible candidates in the Tokyo election also have begun to cast a shadow over the stability of the Abe Cabinet. There are signs in the ruling camp of a group distancing itself from the prime minister in the selection of a candidate for the Tokyo contest despite the current Diet situation that is referred to as “a single overwhelmingly strong party versus a host of weak ones.”

As former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori put it: “There are those who are considering winning the election on the strength of support from Mr. Koizumi. I think this is a bit sneaky.” Mori’s remark indicates a strong sense of caution over the probable cooperation between Hosokawa and Koizumi, both of whom were popular as prime ministers.

Hosokawa’s intention of running for governor also has caused the opposition bloc to sit up and take notice.

Some observers have pointed to the possibility of the Hosokawa-Koizumi alliance developing into a realignment of opposition parties with the aim of rallying anti-LDP political forces under the banner of ending Japan’s reliance on nuclear power generation.

What we find disappointing is the stance the ruling and opposition camps have taken toward the Tokyo election. Neither the LDP nor the Democratic Party of Japan are fielding candidates on their own initiatives.

The LDP is set to throw its support behind Masuzoe. It should be noted that Masuzoe was expelled from the LDP after he criticized the party leadership when the LDP was out of power a few years ago. Understandably, there is a body of opinion within the LDP that is averse to Masuzoe, but he has won support from the ruling party because he is widely considered to emerge victorious.

The DPJ, for its part, was initially inclined to back Masuzoe, but is now set to switch to Hosokawa. DPJ’s vacillation makes us wonder what the party really believes in.

The Tokyo gubernatorial election will be officially announced on Jan. 23 and voting and ballot counting will be held on Feb. 9.

A wide range of questions must be taken up in the campaign, including how to address the challenges leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the problem of the rapidly graying population and what measures should be taken if Tokyo is struck by an epicentral earthquake with its focus just below the metropolis.

The issue of eliminating nuclear power generation must not be the sole focus of attention in the Tokyo election campaign.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 13, 2014)
(2014年1月13日01時31分  読売新聞)


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