News / Asia

Fiery Tokyo Governor Quits to Form New Party

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, October 25, 2012.
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, October 25, 2012.
VOA News
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.

China-Japan relations

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.

Shintaro Ishihara

  • Served four terms as Tokyo governor since 1999
  • Was a member of parliament for Liberal Democratic Party
  • Outspoken nationalist, known for opposition to Japan's pacifist constitution
  • Has threatened to buy and develop islands at center of territorial dispute with China
  • Born in 1932
  • Is a best-selling author in Japan
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.

Domestic agenda

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.

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