Tokyo: An eccentric inventor, a comedian and a taxi driver are among those who have launched campaigns early this week in a contest that will determine as to who will become the next governor of Japan’s crowded, sprawling capital of Tokyo.
The dark horse contenders are adding spice to a race that analysts say is likely to boil down to one between incumbent Shintaro Ishihara and his main reformist challenger, Shiro Asano.
Yoshiro Nakamatsu, self-proclaimed inventor of the floppy disk and 3,000 other gadgets including a golf putter with a “sonic dynamism mechanism” that his Website says improves a golfer’s score and health, is making his fourth run for the job.
Nakamatsu, 78, promised at a news conference that if were elected, he would lower taxes and also safeguard Tokyo’s 12.6 million residents from missile attacks with a new invention that he was working on.
“I’m going to protect Tokyo by an invention that will make missiles turn around,” Kyodo news agency quoted Nakamatsu, who is running under the moniker “Dr NakaMats”.
Inspired by another comedian’s recent election as governor in rural Japan, 50-year-old Kinzo Sakura, a former member of a comedy duo, also threw his hat in the ring with a pledge to ensure Tokyoites’ “right to live and pursue happiness”.
Taxi driver Mitsuru Takahashi, 61, was also among the 11 candidates who had registered to run for elections. The vote will be held on April 8.
Besides such less conventional candidates, Communist-backed Manzo Yoshida, a former ward mayor and well-known architect Kisho Kurokawa are challenging Ishihara, who is seeking a third term.
Ishihara, 74, is admired by some as a forceful leader but disliked by others for his rants against China, foreigners, women past child-bearing age and homosexuals.
“I’m supporting him because he can get things done and is reliable,” said a 60-year-old housewife who was listening to Ishihara’s first campaign speech in western Tokyo.
A prize-winning novelist once seen as prime ministerial material, Ishihara has the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and media polls have given him an early lead.
Among the policies they are clashing over are Ishihara’s planned bid for 2016 Olympics and his policy of forcing high school teachers to stand and sing the national anthem.