News / Asia

Masuzoe Wins Tokyo Gubernatorial Election

Japan's former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe shouts 'banzai' with his supporters at his office, following local media reports that it is certain he will be elected as the new Tokyo Governor, in Tokyo, Feb. 9, 2014.
Japan's former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe shouts 'banzai' with his supporters at his office, following local media reports that it is certain he will be elected as the new Tokyo Governor, in Tokyo, Feb. 9, 2014.
VOA News
The candidate backed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has won a landslide victory in Sunday's election for governor of Tokyo. The poll has been widely seen by Abe’s opponents as a referendum on his pro-nuclear energy policy nearly three years after the Fukushima disaster.


Masuzoe downplayed the nuclear referendum aspect, concentrating as he had on the election campaign on welfare and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
 
“I will be working to make Tokyo the world's best city, in terms of welfare, disaster preparedness, its economy and more importantly to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics a success,” newly-elected Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe said in his victory speech. 
 
The widely expected victory comes as a relief for Abe, who had suffered a rare setback in another local election last month. Abe said he was happy to work with the new governor on the Tokyo Olympics.
 
“I want him to make Tokyo a shining beacon at the center of the world. I have just returned from Sochi and I want to work hand-in-hand to ensure that we have a wonderful 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,” Abe said.
 
Masuzoe, 65, backed by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, won by a wide margin, polling numbers showed.
 
Masuzoe had not made energy policy a prime focus, although he said Japan should reduce its dependence on nuclear power in the medium to long term.
 
That was enough for the voters.
 
“It’s obvious that Tokyo residents cannot ignore the problem of nuclear power plants but above that, they prioritized welfare and employment issues and I think they voted from that stand-point,” senior research fellow at the Fujitsu research institute, Hidetaka Yoneyama, noted.
 
Masuzoe's most prominent rival was former prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa, 76, who came out of retirement to run and with support from charismatic ex-premier Junichiro Koizumi, had put opposition to atomic energy at the core of his platform in the race to lead the capital city of 13.3 million people.
 
Yoneyama added that people voted with their wallets.
 
“With the residents of Tokyo supporting Masuzoe, it also means they are showing their support for Prime Minister Abe's policies,” Yoneyama said.
 
Surveys have shown that most Japanese voters favor abandoning nuclear power, either immediately or in the longer term, but they also indicate that energy policy is not as important an issue for voters as jobs and the economy, an aging population and welfare.
 
Analysts said Hosokawa and Koizumi had failed to gain traction for their single-issue campaign.
 
Thirty-five-year-old Sakiko Hani agreed that the economy came first.
 
“Well, the anti-nuclear movement resonated until recently when the economy was in the doldrums. But now that the economy has swung up, I think everyone is less concerned about the nuclear issue,” Hani said.
 
Forty-five-year-old Takayuki Miura echoed the sentiment.
 
“I think Masuzoe is the most realistic candidate for the Tokyo of today,” Miura said.
 
Masuzoe's win, however, is unlikely to mean smooth sailing for Abe's efforts to restart reactors shut down after the Fukushima accident.
 
This is because of delays in safety checks by a new atomic regulator and the need to persuade host communities to agree to the government's plans.
 
Masuzoe replaces former governor Naoki Inose, who resigned in December amid scandal.

Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs