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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 October 24 - 30  > A lot of bad policies by ex-Tokyo governor Ishihara
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2012 October 24 - 30 TOP3 [TOKYO]

A lot of bad policies by ex-Tokyo governor Ishihara

October 26, 2012
Ishihara Shintaro has abandoned his position as the Tokyo metropolitan governor two years and a half before his term expires. He was a figure who ruthlessly discarded welfare programs while eagerly promoting large development projects.

He first won in the Tokyo metropolitan gubernatorial election in 1999 with a slogan “Change Japan, starting in Tokyo,” after resigning as a Liberal Democratic Party Dietmember.

Soon after he became the governor, he wrote in a magazine that welfare is a luxury and began cutting off or abolishing many elderly-care programs, including benefits for bed-ridden elderly people. Tokyo is now ranked as the worst in Japan for elderly-care programs.

The return of U.S. Yokota Air Base was a centerpiece of his election pledges at that time. After taking office, however, he easily forgot the initial promise.

During his 13-year tenure, Ishihara neglected the need to construct new public housing, downsized children’s hospitals and vocational training centers through mergers and shutdowns, decreased the anti-disaster budget, and undermined social safety nets for the people living in Tokyo.

In contrast, he maintained support for the development of the waterfront area of Tokyo Bay, attached importance to the construction of three loop lines of the metropolitan expressway as well as on urban redevelopment projects at the request of the business community, resumed the construction of the outer Tokyo beltway (which had been on a freeze for about 40 years due to opposition from surrounding residents), and promoted the relocation of the Tsukiji fish market to a contaminated former factory site.

He set up a bank by investing 100 billion yen in tax money but the so-called Ishihara bank created a loss of 85.5 billion yen, used about 1.5 billion yen for Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics but failed, imposed a top-down art project to give an important post to his youngest son who is a painter, and repeatedly wasted Tokyo’s tax money on luxury overseas trips for him, his wife, and his aides.

He adopted a war-glorifying textbook to be used at metropolitan schools and compelled teachers to sing “Kimigayo (his majesty’s reign)”and stand up to pay respect to the “Hinomaru (rising sun)” flag. If teachers disobeyed his directive, he mercilessly punished them in order to exercise administrative control over Tokyo’s education program.

He worked only two or three days a week and picked like-minded friends and aides for key posts in the metropolitan government office to keep his despotic government running.

What makes him infamous is his abusive and provocative use of language. For example, he said: I doubt if that kind people (the severely-handicapped) have personalities; I will risk my life to violate the Constitution; The most harmful thing civilization has brought about is the “baba” (derogatory term for middle-aged women); Japan should be nuclear armed to counter Chinese threats; and the tsunami occurred after the 3.11 earthquake was “divine punishment”.

* * *

The 80-year-old outspoken governor on October 25 suddenly called a press conference at the metropolitan government office to announce that he will step down and will form a new party in order to return to national politics.

Ishihara told the press corps that the Constitution, the ugly document imposed by the occupation army as he describes it, is causing contradictions in national politics. He also announced his peculiar idea that young people should spend a few years doing volunteer work in the police force or in the Self-Defense Forces to foster collective responsibility.

* * *

Yoshida Nobuo, the head of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly members’ group of the Japanese Communist Party, on October 25 issued the following statement:

Governor Ishihara took the lead in prioritizing large development projects following the Koizumi reform, cutting down on social welfare programs, and promoting dog-eat-dog economic policies. It is impermissible for Ishihara, who pushed ahead with an extremely cruel administration that took a heavy toll on Tokyo residents, to use the Tokyo metropolitan government as a steppingstone for his reentry into national politics.

At the time when many Tokyo people are experiencing difficulties in making ends meet, the Tokyo metropolitan government should swiftly shift from the current policy line which broadly abandons not only the socially-weak but also Tokyo residents overall. Together with a wider range of the people in Tokyo, we’d like to take this resignation as an important opportunity to change to a people-oriented metropolitan government.

As for Ishihara’s new party, it will directly conflict with people’s interests because Ishihara has no intention to change LDP policies and intends to fully incorporate into national politics extremely hawkish ideas, denial of the Constitution, and policies supporting an economy centering on large corporations just as the business community demands.

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