The media is reporting that notorious Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara is resigning from his role as head honcho of the capital city in order to form a new party and try to become prime minister.
Remember, this is the guy who almost singlehandedly started the current Japan-China diplomatic relations crisis by absurdly declaring his intentions to buy the disputed Senkaku Islands first with city cash, and then later with donated funds.
This is also a guy who is eighty years old, an age when he should be sitting quietly at home with his family, not running an economy the size of many other nations and stirring up trouble with Japan’s neighbors.
Ishihara has designated his successor as incumbent Vice Governor Naoki Inose, a writer who has recently moved into politics. Inose has a more liberal and reformist approach than his bullish boss, who comes from a wealthy background.
Ishihara became famous for writing a novella called Season of the Sun in the Fifties, which was later made into a film with his brother in the starring role. He is a nostalgic “dandy” icon for the Baby Boomer generation, who make up a dangerous proportion of the electorate.
In his seemingly endless four terms as governor he has also become well known for his insensitive tongue, such as saying the 2011 tsunami was punishment from heaven, and for his ill-fated schemes, such as relocating Tsukiji Market, setting up a city-owned bank, and perennial bids to host the Olympic Games.
Now he is apparently hoping to link up Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s new Japan Restoration Party and go for the biggest job in the land.
Our verdict? Ishihara as Prime Minister would be a total disaster for Japan.