October 25, 2012
Fiery Tokyo Governor Quits to Form New Party
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose outspoken nationalism has often angered neighboring China, says he is resigning to form a new political party ahead of a general election.
Ishihara told a news conference Thursday he plans to run for parliament in the elections, which must be called by August. He was a parliamentarian for the Liberal Democratic Party before serving nearly 14 years as governor of Japan's largest city.
The 80-year-old novelist-turned-politician is known for his far-right political views, including his opposition to Japan's pacifist World War II-era constitution.
Earlier this year, he angered Beijing by threatening to buy and develop a group of islands claimed by both Japan and China. Analysts say the move forced Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to nationalize some of the islands, which led to a serious deterioration in China-Japan relations.
Ishihara was elected for four terms as governor of Tokyo, overcoming several controversies in the process. He called Japan's Fukushima disaster "divine punishment" for greed. He also lashed out at foreigners and foreign icons, once going on a rant against Mickey Mouse for not having Japanese sensibilities.
Ishihara's news conference was more serious on Thursday. He said he hopes his new party can fix what he sees as many contradictions with Japanese politics. He said the biggest is the Japanese constitution, which he said was written in "ugly Japanese" and imposed on Japan by the United States.
He also said he wants to fix the nation's political and fiscal problems, decrying what he says is the "inflexible rule of the central government bureaucrats." Ishihara is credited with overseeing a series of financial and energy reforms in Tokyo, which has a population of over 13 million and a $1.1 trillion economy.