News / Asia

    Japan's Koizumi Backs Fellow Ex-PM in Opposing Nuclear Power

    Former Japanese prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi (front R) and Morihiro Hosokawa (front L) are surrounded by the media after their meeting in Tokyo, Jan. 14, 2014.
    Former Japanese prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi (front R) and Morihiro Hosokawa (front L) are surrounded by the media after their meeting in Tokyo, Jan. 14, 2014.
    Reuters
    Two former Japanese prime ministers challenged incumbent Shinzo Abe's pro-nuclear power policy on Tuesday, as charismatic Junichiro Koizumi backed ex-premier Morihiro Hosokawa's bid to become Tokyo’s governor on a platform opposing atomic energy.
     
    Hosokawa's candidacy could turn the local election into a referendum on Abe's energy policies and boost the anti-nuclear movement, which has lost momentum after a surge following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years.
     
    Surveys show most voters favor abandoning nuclear power, but the electorate nonetheless propelled Abe's pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) back to power in December 2012, largely because of his promises to revive the economy and divisions among anti-nuclear opposition forces.
     
    Asked why he was coming out of retirement to seek the Tokyo governor post, Hosokawa, 76, told reporters, “because I have a sense of crisis that Japan faces various problems, especially nuclear power that could imperil the fate of the country.”
     
    Koizumi, one of Japan's most popular prime ministers from 2001 to 2006, has already nagged Abe with his anti-nuclear power pitch, a turnabout from the days when he led the LDP.
     
    “The biggest reason why I support Mr. Hosokawa is his view that Japan can prosper without nuclear power,” a silver-haired Koizumi, 72, told reporters.
     
    Hosokawa, heir to a samurai lineage, seized the imagination of a public weary of decades of scandal-tainted LDP rule when he formed the pro-reform Japan New Party in 1992. The next year, he took power at the head of a multi-party coalition that ousted the LDP for the first time in nearly 40 years.
     
    However, once in office his unwieldy coalition fractured and Hosokawa stepped down after just eight months amid a financial scandal. He was never charged but his image as a bold reformer was tarnished, and he retired from politics in 1998, taking up pottery instead.
     
    How much of a threat the Hosokawa-Koizumi duo poses to Abe is hard to gage, but Koizumi could be a draw on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, the candidacy could tap into a deep well of anti-atomic power sentiment even as the government seeks to restart nuclear reactors that have been offline since the Fukushima disaster.
     
    A tsunami crashed into the plant on March 11, 2011, causing fuel-rod meltdowns, radioactive contamination of air, sea and food and triggering the evacuation of 160,000 people in the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
     
    Anti-nuclear hopes
     
    “Given that the LDP government has been seeking to resume nuclear power generation slowly and quietly without drawing too much popular attention, Hosokawa's candidacy is bad news in itself,” said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano.
     
    “What Hosokawa and Koizumi show is that the anti-nuclear hopes are not held just by left-wing radicals, but also by a good number of middle class including even those who are conservative otherwise,” Nakano continued.
     
    A survey by the local Tokyo newspaper showed that about two-thirds of Tokyo voters want the country to cease using nuclear power altogether sooner or later. Just over nine percent back the government policy.
     
    A government panel said last month that Japan should embrace nuclear power as an “important and fundamental” energy source, rejecting the previous government's plan to abandon atomic energy.
     
    Still, Hosokawa's age and the way he left office could cloud the outlook for his campaign.
     
    “Hosokawa has little direct contact with Tokyo and Tokyo governor elections are more about name recognition and local connections than policies,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Japan Campus.
     
    The Tokyo poll follows the resignation in December of then-governor Naoki Inose - three months after he helped the capital win its bid for the 2020 Olympics - over his receipt of 50 million yen ($484,000) from a scandal-hit hospital chain.
     
    “Twenty years ago, Mr. Hosokawa stepped down as prime minister due to a problem regarding money - twice as much money as in Mr. Inose's case - from Sagawa Kyubin,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. “I wonder how this will be viewed by people in Tokyo.”
     
    Hosokawa resigned in 1994 amid criticism over a 100 million yen loan he had taken 12 years earlier from the scandal-tainted Sagawa Kyubin trucking firm.
     
    Other candidates include former air force chief of staff Toshio Tamogami, who resigned in 2008 after denying in an essay that Japan was the aggressor in WWII. He heads the nationalist group “Gambare Nippon” (Stand Firm! Japan).

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora