When former Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose was forced to resign over a $500,000 “loan” made to his campaign last year, he doomed us all to one of my least favorite things, a Japanese election. Now the race is on, with dozens of candidates vying for one of the most important political jobs in Japan, governor of Tokyo, which is essentially a prefecture made up of 23 city-sized wards with a total population that’s slightly less than the Netherlands. As usual in Japanese politics, it’s all about old people, and the frontrunners in the race are former Prime Minister and Egyptian mummy impersonator Morihiro Hosokawa, disgraced former Air Self Defence Forces head Toshio Tamogami (who was fired for making inappropriate statements about Japan’s wartime past), and Yoichi Masuzoe, a politician famous for having a lot of ex-wives. (He speaks both French and English fluently, so he qualifies as the “most interesting Japanese politician we can think of offhand” by default.) One thing that’s funny to me is the way national political issues find their way into Tokyo’s “local” politics, and some of the hottest topics for debate include the future of nuclear power in Japan, the ongoing disputes of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea and what Japan should do about the TPP trade agreement.
Former P.M. Hosokawa tries to become governor of Tokyo.