Today Morihiro Hosokawa finally confirmed expectations that he is running in the Tokyo gubernatorial elections in February.

And in an interview with TV Tokyo he has promised if he wins to hold the 2020 Olympics partly in Tohoku.

Hosokawa is a bit of a political cowboy. He comes from a real pedigree, literally a Kumamoto aristocrat and related to the Imperial family. However, far from being yet another run-of-the-mill conservative Japanese politico, he fell out with his peers and ended up breaking away from the LDP to form a coalition government in 1993, being the first non-LDP prime minister since the 1950’s. (Saying that, his administration lasted less than a year.)

During his brief tenure as PM, he was also the first Japanese leader to offer an official apology for the war.

morihiro hosokawa tokyo governor

He continues to reinvent himself, turning from politics to pots and becoming a ceramics artist after he retired. He has maintained a profile in the media, even recently meeting the model Dan Mitsu for an article in a tabloid that must have been an editor’s dream to set up.

Now he is running for the position of Tokyo Governor next month. He is being very firmly supported by another maverick, former Junichiro Koizumi, who, despite being ostensibly a conservative (he’s the one who privatized the Post Office, remember), has made waves by saying Japan must faze out nuclear power. Hosokawa has said the same and hence the potter and the privatizer are natural allies.

morihiro hosokawa pottery ceramics artist

Hosokawa is a laudable figure but we fear he is simply too old (he has just turned 76) to be running Japan’s main economic powerhouse. An elder statesman, yes. An inspirational thorn in the side of the Establishment, yes. But a hands-on leader? The jury’s out.

His “promise” (tentatively, at least) to host the Olympics partly in Tohoku is also very admirable. However, there are a number of issues with it.

It may lead to boycotts. Whether we like it or not, Tohoku’s name has been muddied by Fukushima and overseas athletes may not want to participate.

The IOC may then object as a Tohoku venue was not in the original bid, which on the contrary emerged as the winner by mainly arguing that a Tokyo Games would be compact, convenient and safe.

It also might be interpreted merely as a stunt and ultimately fall into the realm of those other empty “Ganbaro Nippon!” rallying events that create superficial boosts but do little for the long-term.

Polling day is February 9th.


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